New Market man charged with impersonating EMT

WOODSTOCK — A New Market man has been charged with impersonating a certified emergency medical technician after a member of the town police said the defendant appeared at several emergency scenes wearing clothing affiliated with the town fire department.

The defendant, Richard W. Hallman III, 21, of 9474 Congress St., made an initial appearance Friday in Shenandoah County General District Court after coming under police suspicion for actions he allegedly committed between Dec. 17 and Dec. 27.

A criminal complaint filed by New Market police Sgt. Chris Rinker states that he noticed Hallman walking near a residence on Dec. 27, the site of what Rinker described as “a cardiac emergency.” Fire and rescue workers from Rockingham County were already on the scene when Rinker arrived.

“The patient stated that he saw a man with a fire department shirt standing out in front of his residence, and that he thought it was odd that the man did not come into the residence if he was with the fire department,” Rinker wrote.

Rinker stated he had learned the day before that “Hallman had been on the scene of other emergency medical service calls,” including one on Dec. 17 at a New Market 7-Eleven store.

Rinker reported that Capt. Garland Funkhouser of the county’s Department of Fire and Rescue said he found Hallman standing at the door of the patient’s vehicle outside the 7-Eleven.

“Funkhouser stated Hallman was wearing an EMT hat and when Funkhouser approached the vehicle, Hallman removed the hat and put it beside his person,” Rinker wrote.

The complaint states that Rinker interviewed Hallman on Dec. 27. Hallman, a former member of the New Market Fire and Rescue Volunteer Department, told Rinker he was wearing an EMT hat and a fire department T-shirt at the 7-Eleven store, the complaint states.

Shenandoah County Fire Chief Gary Yew said he could recall only one incident “quite a few years ago” of someone being charged with impersonating a firefighter or EMT.

Yew said fire and rescue services are briefed periodically on security risks involving imposters.

“I know that topic has come up with many fire and rescue agencies across the country because there have been attempts by terrorist groups to get hold of fire and rescue uniforms thinking that would give them access to certain facilities,” Yew said.

Warren County Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico said his department participated in a joint investigation in 2013 that led to the conviction of a Frederick County man who had been passing himself off as a Warren County fire official in online communications and in face-to-face meetings.

“We’ve seen people where they become firefighters but they’re no longer affiliated with fire departments, and they’re still going out and identifying themselves as such and still treating victims at car accidents and those types of things,” Maiatico said.

Maiatico said public safety workers need continued training and certification to keep their skills and knowledge at a high level.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com