Officers no longer with fire department after training on dead body

Two Bellingham Fire Department officers are no longer with the department after personnel practiced multiple intubations on a dead body in July, according to officials.

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An investigation revealed that a deceased patient was taken to Fire Station 1 in July to await transportation to a funeral home, The Bellingham Herald reported Monday. Several department members practiced a medical procedure called endotracheal intubation on the body, officials said.

A veteran officer retired, and another resigned after the incident, The Bellingham Herald reported.

Bellingham's fire chief and its mayor on Monday released statements on the incident.

Statement from Bellingham Fire Chief Bill Newbold:

In early August I first learned of an incident at Bellingham Fire Department Station 1 during which department personnel successively performed a medical procedure, endotracheal intubation, on a deceased person. This incident was neither normal nor acceptable. The chief officer directing this activity was immediately placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a complete and thorough investigation. The investigation confirmed to me that the actions of the personnel involved were unacceptable and constitute serious misconduct. I am deeply disappointed by what occurred here. These actions stand to violate the trust between our department and the community we serve, which we have earned through over a century of exemplary service. Going forward, the firefighters, paramedics and staff of the Bellingham Fire Department will continue to work hard in service to our community. Our professional, well-trained personnel constantly endeavor to be responsible stewards of the public's trust, and we are working to repair any breech of this trust through review of appropriate policies and procedures and to ensure all our employees' actions are in alignment with our mission.

Statement from Mayor Kelli Linville:

I was very disturbed when I found out about the incident and appreciate that Fire Chief Bill Newbold responded swiftly to the allegations of misconduct by our personnel. We took it very seriously, taking the steps to make sure that the people who were responsible have been held accountable. What happened was wrong and I want to assure the community that it won't happen again. I am confident that Chief Newbold will take the appropriate measures to continue providing our community the high level of Fire and EMS service you expect.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

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