The city’s Civil Service Commission on Tuesday upheld Fire Chief Mark English’s decision to terminate veteran fire Capt. Tom Mackey.
Mackey’s 28-year fire career came undone as a result of a medical call that sent Mackey, a certified paramedic specialist, and his fire crew to the Mercy Care North medical clinic in northeast Cedar Rapids on June 15 to help a hysterical, hyperventilating woman who was about to throw up.
In the 21-minute encounter, Mackey, 55, dispensed Valium to calm the woman and morphine for her pain. She said she suffered from severe migraine headaches.
Mackey’s crew then handed off the case to Area Ambulance Service, which took the woman to the emergency room, where she was treated and released without incident, Cedar Rapids fire commanders told the Civil Service Commission during Mackey’s 12-hour appeal hearing in August.
A Fire Department review of Mackey’s performance subsequent to the June 15 incident called into question his decision to dispense both Valium and morphine and his failure to use monitoring equipment as the drugs were administered.
Ultimately, the Fire Department’s part-time medical director, emergency room physician Dr. Brad Wisnousky, objected to Mackey’s handling of the case and said he would no longer allow Mackey to work under him.
Mackey, who also works as part-time director of Tipton’s ambulance service, argued at his appeal hearing in August that he correctly followed new emergency protocols established by the state of Iowa rather than the yet-to-be-updated Cedar Rapids protocols.
After Mackey’s August appeal hearing, the Civil Service Commission sent the matter back to Fire Chief English and instructed him to provide Mackey with a due process hearing. The department conducted the hearing and English fired Mackey again.
The commission’s ruling to affirm Mackey’s firing came on Tuesday after his new appeal hearing. The hearing was brief as both sides agreed to let the testimony at the appeal hearing in August be used now.
Nancy Evans, the commission chairwoman, said Tuesday afternoon that the three-member commission reviewed testimony and exhibits provided by both the city and Mackey before affirming the fire chief’s decision to fire Mackey.
Bill Roemerman, the Cedar Rapids attorney representing Mackey, said last night it was too early to know if Mackey would appeal the commission decision to District Court.