I have learned that the new chief of a small fire district near us has declared himself the only one legally authorized to declare deaths.  This sounds suspicious.  First, he is not certified in any EMS capacity; not an EMT, paramedic, nurse.   Second, shortly before he made this procedural change in his district/department he demanded a raise, claiming that he was working many more hours than expected due to his responding to all EMS calls in his "command vehicle" (a pickup truck with logo, lights, siren but NO medical or firefighting equipment).

My question is: How can he get away with this?  Can a non-medically trained Fire Chief give himself such power?  I certainly don't want him checking me out and deciding whether I'm worth doing CPR on!  Looking this up online, the only individuals I found who are legally authorized to declare death are medical doctors, or nurses caring for end of life patients in hospices. 



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Is this declaration of death before or after he checks their immigration status?
Actually, the chief may have the legal power to command the scene.

How is a death declaration "interfering with patient contact".
Actually, that's not true in a lot of places. In many states, they have an Emergency Powers Act that gives the fire chief legal authority to be in command of the scene unless it is a crime scene, and then the senior cop is in charge.

That kind of legislation gives the fire chief the authority to "...tell a EMS type what to do..."

That doesn't make what he's doing smart, but it's not safe to assume that he doesn't have the legal authority to do it without reviewing the pertinent enabling legislation.
Well, I don't know exactly what authority he has or thinks he has, but this issue most certainly needs to be brought to the forefront and some questions answered. This, in my mind, goes far beyond the local gov. level and should/must be looked into fast. I suspect you are going to be the one who he will be upset at, once the investigation starts, but somethings are important enough where someone needs to take a stand.
Maybe the guy is just trying to get noticed like that what's his name sheriff... who makes the inmates wear pink..and runs a no nonsense system.. good for him by the way... but this chief.. yikes..
If I were you, I would keep asking questions, make some phone calls, dig dig dig (not graves though lol) for information.
Hope you will keep us posted.. If we haven't heard from you , we will assume your chief declared you deceased!
Check with the local coroner and/or medical examiner, depending upon which of those systems your state uses. In virtually every state, unless the person declaring death is a licensed physician, out-of-hospital deaths can only be declared by the coroner or their designees.

Did you check to see if the fire chief may have gotten himself authorized as a deputy coroner?
If he did that, then he probably has the legal authority to do what he's doing, even if he's not trained or qualified to do so.

That doesn't make it smart, but it may very well make it legal.
I would say no....only the Med Doctor can call it here in ohio.
Thanks to you all for all the good feedback. I will keep you up to date when I dig deeper over the next weeks.
If the person who is supposedly non-medically trained arrives first, declares death, and has the legal power to do so, then there is no "patient" to be involved in patient care, regardless of what the medically-trained people think.

This entire issue hinges on whether or not the fire chief has the legal authority to declare death or not.

Unless CPR is being done on a patien that meets the Utstein Template for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, the lack of a pulse, resiprations, and cardiac activity is generally a confirmation of death and not a salvageable patient anyway. So say the American Heart Association's 2005 cardiac arrest standards.
Are you saying that as long as you know someone in certain professional positions, you can get authorized as a deputy (insert profession here)???
So without any medical training, other than maybe basic first aid, he can be given the "power" to declare someone as dead? What kind of, in my opinion, moron, would give someone that "power"?
And isn't one of the basic rules of patient care to not do further harm to the idividual? So wouldn't declaring death prematurely prevent him/her from receiving appropriate care that could possibly save his/her life?
This is rediculous. How old is this "chief" anyway? Chronologically speaking.
This needs to be brought up to the higher powers of the medical profession.
Derek,

Remember that I said "That doesn't make it smart, but it may very well make it legal."

And if the patient is dead, what "appropriate care" is he going to get, and how would it help?

We obviously don't know the whole story here, but there very well may be another side to it that the top-line poster didn't discuss. My point is to examine all possibilities so that we don't miss something obvious based on a slanted TLP.
From the Arizona law regarding out-of-hospital deaths...

B. The county medical examiner or alternate medical examiner may:

1. Assign to a medical death investigator or other qualified personnel all aspects of a death investigation except the performance of autopsies.


If the fire chief has gotten himself appointed as a "medical death investigator" or "other qualified personnel", then this is a more complicated issue than it might originally seem.

If the fire chief is just doing this on his own, then he is very likely exceeding his authority by a wide margin.
Where I live only Medical doctors and Cops can legally call someone dead .... unless there is obvious signs (Beheaded, rigor)

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