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Bethel fire lieutenant suspended

Chief says incident was an isolated one for department veteran.


A fire lieutenant here received a seven-day unpaid suspension and 180-day probation, accused of negligence of duty on a medical run Feb. 2.

Brian C. Halk, 53, an 18-year veteran of the Bethel Twp. Fire Department and a lieutenant since 2008, “was negligent and failed to act in a manner that is consistent with established protocols,” according to a disciplinary investigation report by Capt. Brian Ludwick.

“This is a one-emergency occurrence where his performance wasn’t to standard in 18 years serving this community,” Chief Jacob King said Friday.

Ludwick wrote that Halk found the patient in full arrest and failed to: bring a working oxygen cylinder into the home, bring an automated external defibrillator into the home, participate as much as other department members on scene thought he should have, provide effective CPR, contact the sheriff’s office in a timely manner, recognize a significant EMS event and call additional units, and provide effective leadership in the situation.

“It was a mistake that I made. I admitted that I did not take this piece of equipment into this house,” Halk said via phone Friday.

No other disciplinary actions were found in Halk’s personnel records, the Springfield News-Sun found.

Trustees unanimously approved the disciplinary action at their meeting last week following an executive session to discuss the matter.

The patient died, but not because of the care, according to the investigation.

“While this may have not changed the outcome in this particular case, had the patient been viable, it could have severely impacted his/her survivability,” Ludwick wrote.

“The progressive disciplinary process is a way to enhance employee performance,” King said. “It details and states performance below our expectations, provides the employee feedback, and disciplinary action is given to motivate the employee to enhance or change their behavior for the good of the organization.”

The suspension, beginning March 4, and probation, effective from Tuesday, are less than what Ludwick recommended, which included a reduction in rank to firefighter/EMT and a year of probation. Any repeated incident during the year’s probation would have resulted in an automatic suspension, pending dismissal, and reporting to the Ohio Division of EMS for further action, he wrote.

“He is being held to a higher standard since he is a lieutenant and a senior member of the fire department and should know his responsibilities in situations like this,” Ludwick wrote.

Halk is a part-time employee paid an annual salary of about $800, plus an hourly wage, according to personnel records.

Halk did not appeal the disciplinary action.



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