SAN ANTONIO -

An audit found that the San Antonio Fire Department has not been properly handling the drugs it dispenses from EMS units, including several controlled substances.

That was the conclusion after a six-month audit by the city.

The report concluded that the fire department has not implemented adequate controls over drugs in its possession and that procedures for creating and approving drug orders -- as well as receiving, stocking and issuing drugs -- are faulty.

The report also states that there are incomplete and sometimes inaccurate drug records.

The fire department handles drugs, including controlled substances like valium, versed, morphine and fentanyl.

In fiscal year 2011, the department spent $2.1 million on chemical- and medical-related items.

But SAFD Division Chief Steve Reuthinger said the department actually embraced the audit report and went about making changes immediately. Reuthinger said there will be vast improvements once the drug inventory is moved into a new fire building at Callaghan Road and Highway 151, where this is going to be a drug storage locker. That should happen within a month and will have high-tech monitoring systems.

The current location for drug dispensing is downtown in a part of the now-retired Fire Station No. 1.

"We have basically taken a part of Fire Station No. 1 and made a warehouse out of this," Reuthinger said.

He said quarters are tight there and it is not easy to keep track of things.

The auditor’s report showed drug log books were sometimes lost. Now there are forms for tracing the route of the drugs.

"We changed the forms to where we could account for every step of the way where that drug was going," Reuthinger said.

He said SAFD takes seriously the job of keeping track of the heavy duty drugs.

"Strong stuff, and if it got into the wrong hands, then we could all be in a little bit of trouble," Reuthinger said.

He said the procedures for handling drugs and some personnel duties have been changed to better keep track of the drugs EMS uses.

For a list of recent stories Brian Mylar has done, click here.