UPDATE: Drug Stock To Be Replaced After Arrest Of Contra Costa Fire EMS Chief

January 9, 2019 22:32 pm · 21 comments

A 19-year veteran of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District has been arrested on suspicion of drug possession, prompting fire officials to remove, inspect and ultimately replace their inventory of controlled substances stored on vehicles.

Richard Stephenson, chief of Emergency Medical Services, was arrested over the weekend by Martinez police. Contra Costa County prosecutors said no criminal charges had been filed against him as of Tuesday afternoon.

Con Fire spokesman Steve Hill issued an update Wednesday regarding the agency’s own internal investigation, indicating that they’ve removed and inspected the controlled substances on all of their fire engines, trucks and rescue vehicles. There were no signs of tampering, but as a precautionary measure they’ve started the process of replacing that stock.

Meanwhile, district officials have made arrangements with an emergency transport subcontractor to make sure those drugs remain available to patients at the scene of any emergency that district personnel respond to.

The case remains under investigation by Martinez police. Meanwhile, fire officials maintain that public safety has not been compromised.

Lolo January 9, 2019 at 10:45 PM

Sad. I hope he gets the help he needs.

TraumaRx January 9, 2019 at 11:17 PM

A distinguished career serving the public is now ruined because of false allegations. I hope the public can hold off judgment because the truth will come out and vindicate Rich.

yeaaaah right January 9, 2019 at 11:55 PM

Vindicate what? Like he didn’t have fentanyl and versed bottles? I get he has had a rough background leading to addiction. But funneling narcs from the fire department is exactly what it is. Maybe they will just sweep it under the table and give him another promotion like when he lost his medic license.

Glasses January 10, 2019 at 1:36 AM

He lost his medic license and yet got promoted to Chief?!? How does that happen? Why did he lose his medic license?

anon January 10, 2019 at 7:09 AM

” and give him another promotion like when he lost his medic license.”

OH..please tell us more
get the facts out there….

Anon January 10, 2019 at 8:48 AM

Looks like traumaRX has found a new cause other than seatbelts.

If this were ANY of us in the private sector…….we would be looking for another job!!!

Kyburz66 January 10, 2019 at 1:20 PM

An extinguished career. Guilty P.O.S.!

T-Rex January 9, 2019 at 11:35 PM

Emergency transport subcontractor? So you mean AMR. Don’t they administer most of the narcs already from their own supply like 98% of the time.

concord ygnacio January 9, 2019 at 11:35 PM

I hope they have insurance to pay for the replaced drugs. Why should the taxpayer have to pay for this otherwise?

Glasses January 10, 2019 at 1:33 AM

Yikes. Sounds like he was suspected of stealing from the in-house drug supply, and they suspect he was swapping out fakes for the real things. I hope not, as that could result in the death of people his staff were supposed to save.

It amazes me how drug addiction turns people into psychopaths without empathy. It’s like all morality and humanity disappear in the quest to acquire more drugs. I was stunned to read that about as many people died in the U.S. from opioids last year as were killed in the Vietnam War. The sheer volume of drug usage in this country is mind boggling. Are we utterly incapable of stopping this tidal wave? Or do we just not have the political and social will to do it? It can still get much worse. A year ago I wouldn’t have guessed that an EMT chief would steal drugs and a leading Pharmacist would commit armed robbery to steal drugs.

Same January 10, 2019 at 5:46 AM

The tax payer pays for the prosecution, judge, jury, and possibly the defense too.

AnonZ January 10, 2019 at 7:25 AM

They keep a Cocaine supply on fire engines??? WTF???

Thanks for letting the ghetto public know. Now trending…. fire engine truck robberies.

ZZ January 10, 2019 at 7:41 AM

“suspicion of drug possession”. Innocent until PROVEN guilty.

WC Resident January 10, 2019 at 8:16 AM

@T-Rex – I have also been seeing Norcal ambulances stationed the area. I assume it’s an AMR competitor that also has a contract.

@concord ygnacio – Insurance is not “free money from a tree.” We pay for it too, and when an insurance company goes under the state of California pick up the tab. We pay for that too. The only person that should be paying for all of this is the suspect, if he’s convicted.

I have not been paying attention to this news story but assume the suspect is also suspected of swapping out bottles of drugs with similarly labeled bottles of saline solution or something similar so that the theft was not as apparent. It may well be cheaper to swap out the supply with new drugs than to inspect and test each container found in supply lockers the guy potentially had access to. Many drugs have expiration dates and so some of those bottles swapped out now likely would have been swapped anyway in the near future.

WC Resident January 10, 2019 at 8:54 PM

I talked with a Norcal ambulance crew. They mainly handle transport of critical condition patients between hospitals. They also handle transport of patients from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities and more rarely from the hospital to home if the person needs to remain attached to a pump, etc. While they are a backup to AMR for emergencies this almost never happens. Their ambulances include an RN in the crew as nearly always they are transporting someone in critical condition.

The reason they appeared to be on station in the area is when a planned transport is pushed back. Rather than waiting at the hospital they go to a nearby park to chill out.

You’ll also see Falcon ambulances. Those transport people that are in good condition but not good enough that family members can move them.

Mike Hunt January 10, 2019 at 10:01 PM

Any other ambulance does dialysis appointments and discharges from hospital. Those critical calls that require a nurse are few in between. They post in the area because they have nothing to do. It is considered the entry level job of ambulance companies where they do medical transport (No emergencies ever).

Anonymous January 10, 2019 at 8:37 AM


There are 13 people in the world required to presume innocent until proven guilty. The jury and the judge. The rest of us can use common sense .

It absolutely amazes me that the management that hired this guy , with his record, can still be employed . If the Chief that allowed his employment knew about his reported record , he should be shown the door .

ZZ January 10, 2019 at 10:51 AM

Did some digging. If the articles are true, looks like he’s had a drug problem for some time. Found medicine bottles by his landlady while he was (currently) in detox, suspended EMT until 2020. This is a problem for sure.

Kauai Mike January 10, 2019 at 12:12 PM

‘from the government. here to help ….’

Kauai Mike January 10, 2019 at 12:20 PM

If you or I pulled a selfish, life-threatening stunt like that, we’d deservedly get public scorn and many years in jail.

Firefighter though?

“Think of his stress, presumption of innocence, out of character, in need of help” …

Turn n Burn January 10, 2019 at 2:52 PM

I remember when the police officer was caught stealing drugs from the elderly, and everyone wanted him to be hung. Funny when it’s a firefighter all the people who have such sympathy for him.

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