Each member of the panel that certifies paramedics in Washington threatened to resign this week, citing "grave concerns" about the lack of cooperation it has received from the D.C. Fire Department.

The city's Paramedic Review Board's unanimous decision to submit its resignation, which was withdrawn after meeting Wednesday with Public Health Commissioner Reed V. Tuckson, is one of a series of incidents this week that have focused attention on Fire Chief Theodore R. Coleman's ability to manage the city's ambulance service.

The service, which employs the District's paramedics and intermediate paramedics, has been beset since early last year with complaints about lost or late ambulances, sloppy dispatching and poor training.

Alleging that fire department negligence has made it impossible to competently evaluate paramedics' performance, review board members said they told Tuckson Wednesday that they would quit if improvements were not made immediately. Tuckson's prompt assurances, board members said yesterday, changed their minds.

The seven-member review board was created in 1977 by the city Public Health Commission to evaluate and license paramedics. Its members are appointed and receive no pay. The board is composed of prominent officials from the city's medical community, including the director of emergency medicine at George Washington University, the director of the trauma program at the Washington Hospital Center and a representative from the D.C. Board of Medicine.

"We're extremely frustrated," said Midge Moreau, chairwoman of the board and educational coordinator for trauma services at the Washington Hospital Center. "We've been trying for months and months, and nothing was getting any better."

In interviews yesterday, board members said they have not been able to review properly paramedics' performance for 18 months because the fire department has not provided timely or complete access to paramedics' performance files and has not made any effort to hire professionals to conduct in-the-field evaluations of the city's paramedics.

"For 18 months, we have hit a deaf ear," one board member said. "It was just a matter of seven people sitting in a room this week and realizing we just could not go on any more. Things have become completely unacceptable."

Board members said that they have written repeatedly to Coleman about their concerns, but did not receive any response until Wednesday. After meeting with Tuckson, board members said they received a letter from Coleman, assuring them they had full flexibility to do their jobs.

Capt. Theodore Holmes, a fire department spokesman, angrily disputed the board's charges late yesterday. "What sense would it make for the chief to totally ignore an important group like that when it addresses its concerns to him? I feel certain that if they have written him about these issues, he has responded in a timely manner."

Holmes said that "some of these sudden concerns seem to be like jumping on a bandwagon and saying, 'Let's put the last nail in this man's {Coleman's} coffin.' " Tuckson refused to comment on the review board's complaints about Coleman.

On Thursday, Mayor Marion Barry's Committee on Emergency Medical Services voted 5 to 4 that it had "no confidence" in Coleman's ability to manage the city's ambulance service, which has had nine directors since he became fire chief in 1982. Paramedic Review Board members announced their threat to quit at that committee's meeting.

"We have a moral imperative to be as sure as possible about a person we recommend for certification, but just haven't been in that position," said board member Sherry Adams, a nursing director at George Washington University Hospital. "We felt we had become morally culpable."

Board sources said that the board has repeatedly not been able to receive information about paramedic field hours or their participation in continuing education courses, both requirements to continue certification. On numerous occasions, sources said, the review board had to extend paramedics' licenses for months because complete details on their performances could not be obtained from the fire department.

"Ever since the board convened, having personnel records presented in an organized, timely fashion has been a problem for the fire department," said Dr. Craig DeAtley, board member and director of emergency medical programs at George Washington University Hospital.

Fire department delays, board sources said, also forced the board to wait eight months to certify 14 paramedics who had initially failed training courses at the University of the District of Columbia, but later passed and were given provisionary paramedic certification, board sources said. Sources said that the skills of paramedics and intermediate paramedics are evaluated by fellow paramedics who often must work overtime or on their days off to monitor each other and file reports for the board.

Despite persistent requests, the fire department had not hired medical professionals to evaluate medics until Tuckson agreed to do so Wednesday, sources said. Tuckson said yesterday he had assured the board that professional evaluators, and not medics' coworkers, would be hired immediately to conduct performance reports.

"There has been a breakdown," said Dr. Bikram Paul, a board member and senior trauma surgeon at the Washington Hospital Center. "A lot of times we are just not provided with specific, necessary documents. How can we ensure any quality for the citizens of this city?"