Former fire chief admits he used position to get opioids, worked while impaired

Published: Jul. 23, 2018 at 6:48 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2018 at 11:49 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A former Mid-South fire chief admitted in a newly released state report to showing up to work impaired and misusing his position to get opioids for himself.

The report from Tennessee Health Department details what happened in 2016 when Millington Memphis Airport Fire Chief Joshua Anderson used his position to order nearly 100 vials of opioids for his own personal use and showed up to work multiple times impaired.

It's a far cry from the man who Roy Remington, Executive Director of Millington Memphis Airport, said he hired the year before.

"He was an effective fire chief really from the onset," Remington said.

Remington said Anderson even helped oversee a visit by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

However, Remington said he started picking up on signs that Anderson was under the influence of something when he said he noticed Anderson had problems focusing and pronouncing words.

"They're very subtle clues, but there are things that if you know that individual and if you pay attention to their behavior you can pick up," Remington said.

The airport ordered Anderson to get drug tested, but he had a prescription for the opioids found in his system.

It wasn't until airport officials noticed medicine missing that Anderson was fired.

"Those substances were not found to be on the airport nor found to have been used treating any patients and so therefore the individual who had responsibility over those areas needed to be terminated," Remington said.

Anderson found another job with the Memphis Fire Department before the state released its report.

The Memphis Department said Anderson is currently on leave with pay, pending an administrative investigation.

Remington said the Memphis Fire Department never contacted him to inquire about Anderson's background.

Anderson signed the state report, admitting to misusing his position. He agreed to get treatment and to submit to weekly drug tests, in exchange for keeping his Advanced Emergency Medical Technician license.

The report notes Anderson has complied with the requirements thus far.

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