Detectives are pursuing felony drug charges against a Spokane paramedic who allegedly stole drugs from a medic vehicle’s inventory.
Rebecca J. Singley, 32, admitted to investigators that she took Etomidate – a commonly used emergency anesthetic – from Medic 52’s medical box and injected herself twice while on duty May 30, according to a search warrant for her medical records. That evening, the paramedic was found unconscious from a possible drug overdose on the bathroom floor of Fire Station No. 11.
Singley, who after 10 years with the department is now on paid administrative leave, also admitted taking other medications without authorization before last week’s incident, the warrant states.
The Spokane Police Department is only investigating felony possession, not misdemeanor theft, spokesman Cpl. Tom Lee said.
“That’s part of the investigation, but a charge on (theft) would be unlikely,” he said, because authorities tend to pursue the harsher charge.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration is consulting with Spokane police because Etomidate is a Schedule 2 controlled narcotic, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said.
The Fire Department keeps numerous controlled drugs in medical boxes.
On May 30, Spokane police Detective Chet Gilmore, who was investigating Singley’s overdose, determined that some medications in the station’s medical boxes “may have been tampered with,” the warrant states.
Drug boxes are inventoried every day, “so clearly if something were missing, that certainly would have been noticed,” Feist said.
Brian Schaeffer, assistant chief with the Spokane Fire Department, said safeguards are in place to make sure nobody steals medications.
Nevertheless, a Fire Department union leader says someone who is determined likely could steal drugs.
“There’s ways to take drugs so that people don’t find out,” Spokane Fire Local 29 union President Greg Borg said.
“No system’s foolproof,” he added. “The same thing happens at hospitals from time to time.”
The Spokane Fire Department will wait for the criminal investigation to be completed before taking possible action against Singley, Feist said.
“If she’s charged with a felony, we could put her on unpaid layoff status,” Feist said.
If Singley is not charged or is charged with a misdemeanor, “it’s less obvious what happens then. We’d have to go through the internal investigation process,” Feist said.
Such an investigation could result in disciplinary options that range from firing to doing nothing.
“If she’s penalized by the court, that’s none of our business,” the union president said. “But if she’s penalized by the city, we’ll have to look at it.”
He said he assumes Singley will at least receive suspension without pay. She also could volunteer or be required to go through rehabilitation or a monitoring program.
The state Department of Health also is investigating the allegation against Singley and has the power to revoke her credentials to work with drugs such as Etomidate, said Dave Magdy, chief investigator of professional licensing services under the department.
Feist said she was unaware of any previous complaints about Singley, who is married to a Spokane police sergeant.
Borg, a 30-year Spokane Fire Department veteran, said he had never before heard of an employee suspected of stealing and using the department’s drugs.
“The criminal investigation is important,” Lee said, “but truly her well-being is the No. 1 concern of every city employee.”