SWITZERLAND CO., IN (FOX19) - The morning following our investigation into allegations of faked medical and CPR certifications, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security started calling the people we interviewed in our initial report.
A former assistant chief of the Jeff Craig Fire Department, Josh Gosciniak, told FOX19 his name was added to training rosters for the state's basic EMT course, then he received passing scores that would have allowed him to become state certified.
Gosciniak said he had direct knowledge of other certifications being faked in the county, including more of his own.
[Previous story: County emergency heads accused of faking training records]
We tried to interview Chris See regarding this latest report. We tried reaching See on his cell phone July 8. When the call went unreturned, we emailed See on July 9, seeking comment on this report. See responded though email July 10 writing, "Good morning, any questions pertaining to Switzerland County EMS and Jeff-Craig Fire may be submitted in writing to our legal representative Lisa Rosenberger."
When we reached Ms. Rosenberger by phone July 10, she told FOX19, "I've advised my client to not make any statements at this time because there is an ongoing investigation."
Rosenberger admitted representing Randy See and SCEMS, but confirmed to FOX19 she was not representing Chris See. A follow up email to Chris See regarding Ms. Rosenberger's statement has not been returned.
As of this report, we have not heard back from Chris See to include his comments in this article.
"I WAS ASHAMED"
Cody Miller wanted to be a fireman since he was a child. He tried before turning 18 to take fire certification tests, but said he was too young and was turned away.
As soon as Miller turned 18, he told FOX19 he went straight to Switzerland County Emergency Management Director, Chris See, to be certified through the state of Indiana.
"It was a mistake," Miller said. The mandatory fire training is supposed to take 40 hours. Miller said he and a dozen other trainees got it all done in a few hours.
"It's supposed to be a 4 month or something class and went through and did it in a day and was given the answers at the end of the day. I was told to mark some wrong so it looked like we all missed them and went from there," Miller said.
The orders to fabricate the test and training came from Chief Chris See, Miller told FOX19.
"He's actually the one that told us which ones to miss and which ones to answer right," Miller said.
Miller stayed on the Jeff Craig Fire force for a few months before he applied to another volunteer fire department inside Switzerland County. Before Miller agreed to join the new department, he applied to the state of Indiana for fire training—the training he thought he had when he approached See months before.
"Did you feel as though you'd earned that certification?" FOX19's Jody Barr asked Miller. "No, not one bit earned it," Miller replied. "Did you feel guilty going to fires knowing that you were potentially putting yourself at risk and possibly the lives you were trying to save?" Barr asked, "Yep. The day I found out, they had a house fire--and I went there and actually helped and I didn't earn it. Didn't feel like I needed to be there," Miller said.
In December 2013, Cody Miller completed the state's fire training and received his certification to fight fire in Switzerland County. That day, Miller said, he tried to report what happened with See to Indiana's Department of Homeland Security.
"I went and called the state," Miller explained, "I actually told them that I got pencil whipped and they didn't even want to do anything about it. They just printed me off a new certification with the date I completed my class."
Miller still carries the certification card he said he got from Chris See as a reminder, "From the bottom of my heart I know that I earned this one and this one is always in my back pocket to tell me that I'm in it for the right reasons and not the wrong reasons."
"I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I'D DO WITH A HAZMAT SCENE"
In April 2014, Jeff Craig Fire member Tabetha Jedding signed up for and took a test to become a Hazardous Material operator in the state of Indiana. Jedding took the test, but never submitted the paperwork.
The reason: Jedding said she couldn't live with knowing she cheated to earn the certification.
"I'm holding the key to the HazMat awareness test," Jedding said as she stood on her porch during a July 1 interview. Jedding held several sheets of paper with questions and answers circled. The test was titled: "Hazerdous Materials Awareness/Operations" and Jedding said the answers were circled by her fire chief, Chris See.
"He (Chris See) went into the office at EMS--to his dad's office--and printed them off for me," Jedding said. See's father, Randy, is the Switzerland County EMS director.
Jedding said she attended a couple of hours of class, but that most of the scheduled classes were canceled and were never made up. Several days after the first course, Jedding said Chris See handed her and eight other trainees answer keys for the hazardous materials test.
"What did he tell you specifically?" Barr asked Jedding. "He told me I'm going to give you the key to the test so you guys can pass it. Don't tell anybody I'm giving this to you, either," Jedding explained.
A test record dated April 14, 2014 shows Chris See's signature in the "Lead Evaluator" section, directly under a sentence that states, "By placing my signature below, I attest, under the penalty of perjury that each practical skill outlined in the rules has been successfully completed by the candidate…"
The record would have allowed Jedding and the eight others to apply for a certification from the state of Indiana. Jedding said she never went through with the certification. A check of the Indiana online state certification database does not show that Jedding was ever certified in any hazardous materials training.
"I felt bad," Jedding explained as to why she never went through with the training. "If a natural gas line—if that just burst—I mean, you've got to evacuate the whole town. If I didn't know what, what am I going to do, say it's okay and leave these people to die," Jedding said.
WHO KNEW WHAT, WHEN
Throughout this investigation, we've received multiple pieces of information from multiple sources in order confirm the facts we're reporting are true. Our sources tried for more than a year to have someone from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security investigate the allegations we've outlined in this report.
Our sources claimed all three Switzerland County Commissioners—the body that negotiated the SCEMS contract with the county—knew about the allegations we investigated since the summer of 2014. We went to the July 6 meeting to ask the commissioners when they knew and what they did with the information.
Commissioners Josh South and Steve Lyons admitted they knew about the allegations for a year. Commissioner Mark Lohide said he knew nothing about the allegations against Chris and Randy See.
South said he reported the allegations of the faked CPR and AED cards and the faked medical certifications to IDHS in 2014. South did nothing else with the information, he explained, because IDHS was already on it, "At that time, there was an investigation currently going on by the Department of Homeland Security," South told FOX19 in front of the audience at the July 6 commissioners' meeting.
That investigation was actually a scheduled re-inspection that happened in August 2014. The re-inspection was scheduled following an August 2009 audit where the state issued three separate verbal warnings to SCEMS over substandard training records. The re-inspection was originally set for Sept. 8, 2014, but IDHS decided to send inspector Jason Smith to Vevay in August 2014.
South said he reported new allegations to IDHS on June 3, 2015 after receiving a call from one of the people we interviewed in our initial investigation. IDHS had already opened an investigation after receiving a complaint that SCEMS "unlawfully" photocopied the company's materials in creating the CPR and AED cards we reported on in our initial investigation.
The commissioners have no purview over SCEMS or its director, Randy See, other than a contract that expires on Dec. 31, 2015. Lyons told the crowd during the public hearing that if any misconduct was uncovered by IDHS, the county would consider not renewing the contract as a possible option.
The commission said the allegations against Chris See did not relate to his duties as the county's EMA director and he would likely not face any disciplinary actions if IDHS' current investigation showed any type of wrongdoing.
All three commissioners said they were waiting on the results of the IDHS investigation before making any decision, "We're talking about the health and welfare of the community and we understand the gravity of that situation," Lyons said.
State Representative Randy Frye was in Vevay last week, hosting a public hearing. We attempted to reach Frye though his legislative office, but never got a returned call, so we met him at the meeting on July 8.
Despite one of our sources claiming to have told Frye about the fabricated state certifications last year, Frye denied knowing anything about it during our interview. "I have no knowledge of it," Frye explained, "If somebody's said anything, I don't know."
Frye said he got a call June 3 from Commissioner Josh South about new allegations. Frye said he called Indiana State Fire Marshal Jim Greason and ordered an investigation. Frye knew of the 2014 audit, but said some people "didn't have confidence" in that audit and said he asked Greason to not send Jason Smith back for the new investigation.
"What I asked Fire Marshal Greason was to escalate--to have a supervisor or someone above the paygrade of the gentleman who came and did the initial investigation to come back and do that investigation," Frye said.
2014 STATE AUDIT OF SCEMS
On August 6, 2014, IDHS inspector Jason Smith finished a standard audit of the Switzerland County EMS squad. The audit included past reviews of SCEMS and the audit shows Smith conducted inspections of ambulances and equipment owned by SCEMS.
What the 2014 audit does not show is any documentation that Smith or IDHS ever contacted people named on training rosters to confirm whether the certifications they held were legitimate. The audit report does not contain any records to show any statements were gathered from either the people making the complaints or the ones accused.
Smith did find issues at SCEMS with training rosters. In the 2014 audit, Smith suggested SCEMS "draw a line down the rest of the form so no one could add a name at the bottom." Smith's audit does not give any further information as to the reason for this directive from IDHS.
The audit also found SCEMS did not meet state standards for: having written sanitation procedures, vehicle and equipment check sheets completed per shift, and ensuring all Advanced Life Support medications are present, sufficient quantity and not expired.
An audit report from 2009 shows SCEMS has historically had problems with maintaining sufficient training records. In an August 2009 audit, an inspector found multiple problems with SCEMS training records. Those include:
-"some missing signatures on sign in"
-No evaluations have been conducted"
-"Grade book incomplete"
-"Several students have incomplete records that if calculated would not pass course written standards."
Those August 2009 issues led to three separate violations. The violations are marked as "verbal warning" but required the state to re-inspect SCEMS on Sept. 8, 2014. The records we received from IDHS show the inspection Jason Smith conducted in August 2014 was the scheduled re-inspection from the August 2009 audit.
The audit shows Smith got information during the 2014 inspection from Chris See, although See is not listed as having any official capacity within SCEMS.
Smith closed the 2014 audit with a written statement on the last page: "At the beginning of the audit, provider representatives made us aware that some records are believed to have been stolen from the director's office. This theft has been reported to the Indiana State Police."
Smith provided no documentation in the audit of when and to whom the theft reports were made. We contacted Vevay Police Chief James Richards in writing through his taxpayer-funded email address on July 9, requesting any report of theft from the SCEMS office. As of this report, Chief Richards has not responded to our request.
We also filed a request with Indiana State Police Spokesman, Tommy Walker, for documentation showing the theft claims from SCEMS were reported to ISP. As of this report, Trooper Walker has not responded.
NEW IDHS INVESTIGATION CONFIRMED
Our initial investigation aired July 2. The morning of July 3—a state holiday in Indiana—an IDHS investigator contacted Josh Gosciniak, the former assistant fire chief in Vevay. The investigator turned out to be Northeast EMS District Manager, Don Watson.
A check of IDHS' web site does not list Watson as an investigator.
On July 9, we watched as Watson met with Janelle Lustig, a woman we interviewed in our initial investigation. Lustig's name ended up on one of the faked CPR cards although Lustig is a paramedic in Louisville and said she never attended a CPR class in Switzerland County under Chris See.
Watson met Lustig at the East Enterprise fire station just past 3 p.m. The interview ended a little more than two hours later.
Watson met with a second interviewee at the station, then attended a medical training class at SCEMS that night. The next morning, Watson met with SCEMS Director Randy See at the EMS office to make copies of records and to talk with See regarding the allegations.
Watson is to present his initial findings to the state fire marshal Monday, but told our sources the investigation would likely take much more time to complete.
We do not know whether IDHS is investigating the allegations of fabricated fire certifications involving Chris See as the agency told us it does not discuss ongoing investigations.
We do not have a timeframe on how long the IDHS investigation might take.