A Salt Lake Fire Department paramedic has been suspended after he was accused of injecting himself with drugs while on duty. He is the third department employee to be investigated for stealing or using drugs since August.

The fireman's captain phoned police after he noticed the paramedic was drowsy and slurring words. When questioned about his condition, he said he had taken an antihistamine tablet, according to a Salt Lake police report.Three syringes and three empty vials were located in a garbage can at the fire station. The captain also said he noticed 12 needle marks on the paramedic's legs, the report said. The man later admitted to injecting the unspecified drugs.

The suspect said he got the drugs from a throwaway bin at LDS Hospital.

"What he said he took was not a controlled substance. It was a wasted non-narcotic Phenergan drug," said hospital spokesman Craig Rasmussen.

Phenergan is sometimes given with a narcotic to make the drug's effects last longer. When taken by itself, it is non-narcotic, he explained.

Rasmussen said the drugs were allegedly taken from a Sharps container, a disposal canister kept at a nurse's station to keep used medicines and equipment. Usage of the Sharps container is "standard hospital procedure" to dispose of the items and prevent communicable diseases, among other purposes.

Police and fire officials deferred all comments to the city attorney's office. Attorney Frank Nakamura confirmed there was a criminal investigation and an employment investigation under way, but declined further comment while the case is under investigation.