An LODD Benefits Ruling to Watch

Autopsy on Kentucky chief’s death raise questions of national recognition.

On 12 April 2012, Lake Dreamland Fire Chief John Wilkinson, Jr. responded with his company to a brush fire in the early morning hours. After returning home Wilkinson suffered a reported heart and later died. His death is rightly listed as an official on-duty death according to standards by the U.S. Fire Administration.

Wilkinson Jr., John Earl – Louisville, Kentucky

Yesterday The Courier-Journal reported that autopsy report, released by the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office, listed Wilkinson’s cause of death as drug and alcohol intoxication, instead of cardiac disease as originally reported.

The report has surprised the members of the local fire board. Current Lake Dreamland Chief Freddie George stated that Wilkinson has undergone annual physicals in the past including drug screening. The Courier-Journal noted that through an open records request, Wilkinson did have heart disease which the coroner’s office said did contribute to his death.

The Kentucky Fire Commission is reportedly reviewing Wilkinson’s case regarding benefits and forwarding onward for federal benefits.

Fire Chief George stated that a proposal for random drug testing of employees and volunteers was being worked on before Wilkinson’s death.

References:
“Fire chief died of drugs and alcohol, autopsy finds” Halladay, The Courier-Journal
The Kentucky Fire Commission

 

 

Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for Elsevier Public Safety (FireRescue Magazine/Firefighter Nation, JEMS and LawOfficer sites.) Bill also manages the FireEMSBlogs.com network and is a former volunteer lieutenant with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George's County, Maryland.

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4 Comments

  • michael says:

    Ho boy, there was a time when my blood incited a Haz-Mat response. (never on or near duty) I'll be keeping an eye on this one.

  • Mark S. says:

    Suggested reading is USFA document Firefighter Autopsy Protocol printed in March 2008 if a newer version is not out there.  Read Section II.  An autopsy is not required but highly recommended by several organizations.  I think it would be extremely difficult to defend a LODD ruling if illegal drugs or excessive alcohol is found.
     

  • Dave LeBlanc says:

    …not saying this applies here, but something to consider.  It is possible to have elevated ETOH levels from burn injuries.  I am a little foggy as to the details, but this was discussed a while back after the Boston LODD that killed Payne and Cahill.  The FAA has some documentation regrading this from plane crash investigations.  I know there was also a case involving a Trooper or Deputy in Ohio. 
    The testing needs to be conclusive and accurate.  

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Backstep Firefighter

“To provide a point of critical thought about certain acts and events in the fire service while incorporating behavioral education and commentary in a referenced format.”
Comments
Bill Carey
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Thank you Shawn.
2014-09-09 10:58:45
Bill Carey
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Thank you Trey. It would be valuable for all of us to do a follow-up later or a look at one of your trainings and how departments are applying the new research and testing the new tactics for themselves. Bill
2014-09-09 10:58:32
Shawn Royall
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Bill, Thanks for saying exactly what many of us want to but don't have an outlet for.
2014-09-09 03:30:10
Trey Smith
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Bill, thank you for your feedback. I would invite you to contact me to learn more about FPM.
2014-09-08 22:20:52
Ron Ayotte
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Buckets, not puckets... 1st day back at work after vacation, and all the coffee I had today hasn't kick started the brain into gear!
2014-09-08 19:55:41
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