That's the title of Andrew Welsh-Huggins AP report via the Clinton News Herald. LINK
Ohio has no authority to stop certified emergency medical technicians from working as executioners in death penalty cases because they are not acting as EMTs when putting people to death, a state attorney ruled Wednesday.
The EMTs are included on the state execution team because they possess skills such as inserting IV needles, not because they are working as EMTs under medical direction, according to the legal opinion by Heather Frient, a lawyer with the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has two certified EMTs on its execution team. The state's chief executioner, who was an EMT, retired last month. He was replaced by another EMT, prisons spokeswoman Andrea Carson said.
The retired executioner and a current team member who is also an EMT explained their death penalty duties at a March hearing in federal court about Ohio's lethal injection system.
Jonathan Groner, a surgeon who studies lethal injection, maintains that the team members are violating Ohio law because they administer drugs that EMTs are not allowed to handle.
Frient's ruling didn't address this issue since it found only that the State Emergency Medical Services Board has no jurisdiction to investigate EMTs for such alleged violations.
"The individuals do not wear any EMT insignia or uniform, they do not refer to themselves as EMTs (nor does DRC refer to them as EMTs)," Frient wrote.
She added: "it does not appear, based on their testimony, that they think of themselves as EMTs during the execution process."
Suzanne Hoholik writes, "EMT board ducks death-penalty flap," for the Columbus Dispatch.
The Ohio EMS board has no authority over the emergency medical technicians who administer lethal drugs in state executions.
That's the opinion board lawyer Heather R. Frient made public yesterday during the board's meeting.
Board members asked Frient to determine whether these technicians were under their jurisdiction. Under state law, intermediate EMTs are not authorized to work with these drugs.
But these technicians are an exception, Frient said.
"They do not appear to be acting as EMTs in the performance of their execution duties," she wrote in the opinion.
The issue was first brought up by Dr. Jonathan Groner, a pediatric surgeon at Nationwide Children's Hospital and former board member.
Groner said his concern was prompted by the testimony of two intermediate EMTs in a federal case filed by an Ohio Death Row inmate challenging lethal injection.
The case, filed in 2004, is pending.
Groner said he was disappointed with the opinion.
"When you obtain medical-profession skills -- a doctor, nurse or EMT -- those skills you use to help people should never be used to harm people," said Groner, who opposes the death penalty.
The procedure that state officials follow during executions states that the lethal drugs should be given by a "person qualified under Ohio law to administer medications."
In Ohio, physicians, nurses and paramedics working under a doctor's order are allowed to administer these drugs.
State corrections officials have said they would not ask physicians or nurses to be involved in executions because it conflicts with their oaths to preserve lives.
"The EMS board is put in the position where it does not think EMTs are as professional as other medical professions," Groner said.
The governor is satisfied with the execution process.
The board didn't challenge or disagree with the opinion, though one member said the discussion might not be over.
"I think it may be something we've got to look at closer," said William Quinn, who represents the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters on the board.
"It appears to open a Pandora's box."