NAPLES — Collier County Medical Director Robert Tober has pulled advance life support certification for all East Naples firefighter-paramedics because he says they have failed to meet agreed-upon training standards.
It is the latest move in an ongoing feud between Tober and the county’s fire districts.
“It’s just like a toothache, man,” Tober said of the feud.
East Naples Fire Chief Doug Dyer said Tober’s latest action to decertify the remaining half-dozen firefigther-paramedics, coupled with the Collier County Commission not stopping him, is proof the commission has no interest in renegotiating the EMS and fire departments’ service agreement.
That was the direction the commission gave at a Sept. 15 board meeting.
In early September, Tober began decertifying firefighters who are with the North Naples Fire Department and then followed suit a week later with five more North Naples firefighters and 13 firefighters from East Naples.
“There is no interest on the part of the county to renegotiate because they have not stopped Tober,” he said.
With no more certified paramedics in the department, the firefighters-paramedics cannot provide advanced life support to injured people or to heart attack victims if they are first on the scene. Dyer said.
“We must wait until EMS arrives and then it is their call what they will allow us to do,” Dyer said.
In a letter to Dyer dated Oct. 28, Tober wrote that “placing those administrators as primary care attendants raises concerns.”
He then ordered that all advance life support medications be immediately removed from East Naples fire trucks.
Tober said that county firefighters-paramedics previously agreed to ride on an ambulance for one 24-hour shift every 90 days to keep their skills fresh. But East Naples firefighters haven’t done that, he said.
Dyer said that isn’t the case.
“The riding was never part of the agreement,” Dyer said.
Dyer said the fire department has sent a letter to Commission Chairwoman Donna Fiala about Tober’s latest action, which states that the department’s “successful supplementation of the County’s EMS system has ended.”
Tober said what happened is the fire department’s own doing.
“They’re the ones that didn’t meet training standards,” he said.
Tober contends that local firefighters are trying to take on advance life support duties, not for the public’s safety, but to justify their jobs.
Firefighter-paramedics should be performing basic life support, and leaving advance life support to medics who do the job full time, he contends.
After 27 months of tracking, Tober said, there is no evidence that firefighter-paramedics need to perform advance life support or have enough opportunities to use their skills to stay competent.
“It’s responsible medical practice against union agendas, plain and simple,” Tober said.