Dead Man Alive; Washington Paramedic Suspended John Branton, The Columbian (Washington) Jan. 17-- A Vancouver firefighter-paramedic wrongly determined that a suicidal man was dead, only to learn an hour later the man was still breathing, an official said Tuesday. As a result, Jesse Avery, who has been with the Vancouver Fire Department for three years, was placed on a 30-day suspension without pay Tuesday, said Fire Chief Don Bivins. Avery also has lost his status as a state-certified paramedic, which represents an advanced level of emergency medical training that some firefighters attain. He's expected to continue working for the department as a firefighter but will be on probation for three to five years, Bivins said. Bivins said the Willamette Week newspaper, based in Portland, heard about the incident and called VFD to ask about it last week. After an internal investigation that began after the Dec. 3 incident, the fire department took action on Tuesday. The investigation revealed that Avery was sent to a west Vancouver location, where the fire department crew found a homeless man in a detached garage. He had what appeared to be a suicide note on his lap. Bivins said Avery examined the man, concluded that he was dead, and left the scene while police and an official with the medical examiner's office remained. An hour later, Bivins said, the police and other officials called the fire department crew back to the garage, reporting the man was breathing. Bivins said he couldn't identify the man or disclose medical details, due to federal medical privacy laws. However, he said the man was discharged from a local hospital. "There are very clear medical protocols to follow when you suspect a death in the field," Bivins said, adding that Avery "did not follow all of those." Avery cooperated during the investigation and admitted that he failed to follow the protocols, Bivins said. "I think he's very relieved to have a job." Avery told officials he didn't want to speak with news reporters, said firefighter-spokesman Jim Flaherty. Bivins said it was the first such incident he could recall in his 31 years with fire departments, including 12 in Clark County.