Injury leads to termination of firefighter/paramedic

PLYMOUTH — An on-the-job injury in 2009 to a full-time firefighter/paramedic for the City of Plymouth led to the termination of Crystal Garza during the Board of Public Works meeting Monday night. The injury led to stringent lifting restrictions for Garza that leaves her incapable of fulfilling the required job duties.
City Attorney Nelson Chipman and Fire Chief Andy Metsker presented the board with findings of fact in the recommendation for terminating Garza from the department.
Garza had been appointed to the position in September, 2001. The injury that occurred Aug. 3, 2009 ultimately led to two surgeries. At this time, she is under a 20-pound weight limit with no overhead lifting.
Metsker testified during the meeting that an essential job function for a firefighter/paramedic includes the ability to lift substantially more pounds than Garza’s limitation allows. He said the job description requires a fireman/paramedic to be able to drag 150 pounds 50 feet.
Metsker said there is no employment position within the Plymouth Fire Depart-ment with a 20-pound weight limitation, even considering reasonable accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabil-ities Act.
“As paramedics and firefighters, we know we could suffer a career ending injury at any time,” Metsker said, adding with a department of only 13, he was at the point he had to do something.
Garza had been notified of her right to have a hearing on the matter, but declined.