A Drexel Hill medical technician's drinking and drug problem were one and the same, according to Upper Darby police, who arrested the man for allegedly stealing morphine and fentanyl syringes from his employer that he then emptied and drank as pain-killer cocktails.
Ronald Ferrell, 35, began working for STAT Medical Transport of Drexel Hill in September 2011, according to police, and it took his employer just three months to notice that Ferrell's patients seemed to be going through morphine and fentanyl like Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo on a bad day in Las Vegas.
Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said before Ferrell began his employment with STAT, the company had gone through just two morphine syringes and four fentanyl syringes in seven months. However, in the three months after Ferrell was hired, they went through 28 morphine syringes and 26 fentanyl syringes, Chitwood said.
The company started its own internal investigation and conducted random drug tests on its employees, according to police. Ferrell turned up hot for morphine and STAT Medical Transport contacted Upper Darby police, who brought Ferrell in for questioning, Chitwood said.
During police interviews, Ferrell admitted to taking the syringes on at least 12 or 15 occasions, emptying them and then drinking the contents, Chitwood said. He was doing this on top of taking Percocet and Dilaudid, two prescription pain killers, according to police.
Ferrell allegedly told police he was doing it to alleviate the pain from his Crohn's disease but Chitwood called him an "addict."
"He became addicted to his own profession and now he's a street criminal," Chitwood said. "You can't steal from your employer and he was stealing morphine and fentanyl."
Chitwood said it was lucky Ferrell didn't injure any patients he may have treated.
"It's kind of a scary proposition," Chitwood said. "You have someone addicted to this pain medication and he's treating people who need help. What's to stop him from overdosing an individual who is really sick?"
Ferrell was charged with a dozen counts of theft, receiving stolen property and related charges. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on February 28.