MOUNT VERNON — Piece by piece, Mount Vernon city officials are putting the finishing touches on the investigation into Mount Vernon Fire Chief Shawn Christy.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis said there was communication scheduled between the city’s law directors and the Ohio Department of Public Safety this week about the investigation into Christy’s credentials. However, as of 8 this morning, he was unaware of the results of that communication.
“I think there was supposed to be some sort of a communication or exchange yesterday. We’re trying to get a meeting set up today with (law director) Bill Smith, so he can share with us what kind of information they’ve received,” Mavis said. “I haven’t, and Dave hasn’t, received any of those items that we expected to get from the state. By Friday, I would expect, we need to have something to report, something in place, by the end of the week. Hopefully, today’s information will share that so we’ll have something to go on.”
Each paramedic is required to complete a minimum of 86 continuing education hours within a three-year cycle and Christy’s paramedic re-certification, which was to take effect Thursday, was flagged “needs approval” by the state following an audit. Christy was then placed on paid administrative leave June 2 after the state notified the city it was questioning Christy’s paramedic credentials.
“Clearly, with this a suspension with pay, we’re headed in a direction where we either get this thing over with and bring him back to work or we’re going to go the other direction. At this point, we still don’t have that direction.”
The state isn’t expected to decide on Christy’s paramedic credentials until at least the next meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 17. With his current certificate set to expire Thursday, Mavis isn’t sure whether it can be extended or if Christy would be unable to practice after that day if the city decides to re-instate him.
“That’s something I asked, if someone missed their renewal date by a course or two, but are in the process of taking it, I was told the state will give you an extension in order to get it. It did not seem to be a drop-dead date unless you were completely negligent or unless something else was wrong,” Mavis said. “In this case, there is clearly an investigation going on. Whether or not they would go ahead and renew that. My experience is they would not. They may give an extension on the existing credentials but would not renew it until the investigation is complete.”
Part of the city’s qualifications for the fire chief’s position is that the individual hold and maintain both a Firefighter II certification and an EMT-Paramedic certification.
“The whole issue is credentials and whether or not he has sufficient credentials to renew. I think that’s the issue here and I think that’s what the state is talking about and what we’re talking about. That’s what we’re investigating — the credential part of his job.”
Despite wanting to get the situation resolved quickly, Mavis wants to make sure the city has all the information needed to make the correct decision for the city and the fire department.
“What we have is not something that I’d want to make any final decisions with,” Mavis said. “That’s always a concern that if you make a move that’s foolish, you’re susceptible to a lawsuit. That’s why we’re cautious.
“I think we want to make sure the direction we take after we have all the information is something that is credible — that’s either way. If Shawn Christy comes back as chief of Mount Vernon fire, we want to have the information in place that says, ‘Yeah, his credentials are in order and he’s our chief and will continue to be.’ If, in fact, there’s another direction to go, we’d want to make sure we had all of that information in place. It would be foolish for anyone to think that we’re making a poor decision or going in the wrong direction. There’s always consequences to pay and generally it ends up in some kind of a lawsuit. What we’re saying is we want to make sure we’ve made that right decision.”