The Chicago paramedic at the center of racial allegations was fired, NBC5 reported on Monday. Donald W. Walsh told the Sun-Times last week he was so bitter about being railroaded, he has no desire to return to the department he loves. Now Walsh, 51, will get his wish -- but not on his own terms. He was informed Monday that he was being terminated, ending a 31-year career that includes a doctorate, two books and a host of commendations. He has 96 hours to respond to the charges. "This action results from not only the improper questioning concerning a paramedic's race, but also administrative actions that left an ambulance out of service and unavailable to provide medical care to the people of Chicago for an extended period of time," said Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. "A replacement paramedic was not pressed into service, even though the investigation has determined that several fully trained personnel were available." Walsh called both allegations "outright lies." He said the question he asked was "Is he back on the ambulance yet?" -- not "Is he black?" And Walsh said he called a replacement paramedic "within an hour." Walsh said he plans to retire this week, then file an official complaint with federal hiring monitor Noelle Brennan. He called the firing "political retribution" by Fire Commissioner Ray Orozco. "This is getback. I was part of the team that assisted the Illinois Senate investigation on the poor response of the Chicago Fire Department to the 1995 heat wave when [Orozco's] father was commissioner. This is retribution for his dad being held accountable for the heat wave deaths," Walsh said. When Orozco Jr. assumed his dad's old job, Walsh said, "I told him about unethical practices by other exempt rank people -- everything from civilian personnel wearing uniforms to civilian personnel making decisions, lying to outside committees and not following federal guidelines. This is what happens when you hold people accountable. It makes people angry. You become a target." On March 3, Walsh was allegedly on the phone with a field officer who asked if a paramedic could go to a South Side hospital because of an emergency involving his child. Walsh asked if the paramedic was white or black, according to what the field officer has told department officials. Told the paramedic was black, Walsh -- who is white -- allegedly said the paramedic or field officer would have to find a replacement before the paramedic could leave for the hospital. In the end, the paramedic was allowed to go without delay. The Fire Department's decision to throw the book at Walsh follows a history of racial tension in the department. The most celebrated example was a raucous 1990 retirement party at Engine 100 where on- and off-duty firefighters were captured on videotape drinking beer, using racial slurs and mooning the camera. The most recent case occurred in 2004, when fire radio was used as a megaphone for racial and ethnic insults at least six times in one month. In between, six firefighters were suspended for harassing an American Indian firefighter.
Additional information provided by Chicago Sun-Times Inc.