City Paper is not for tourists
The mayor’s office has released a damning report on the findings of its investigation into the January death of Medric Mills across the street from a fire station. The document calls for disciplinary action against five firefighters and four emergency dispatchers after the firefighters failed to respond to the incident and dispatchers initially sent emergency personnel to the wrong address.
Millscollapsed Jan. 25 across the street from a fire station on Rhode Island Avenue NE while shopping with his adult daughter and later died at Washington Hospital Center. Despite pleas for help and awareness that a medical emergency was occurring, none of the nearby Engine 26 fire fighters at the station provided medical assistance.
According to the report, a person entered the station and said there was a medical emergency outside, and the probationary firefighter manning the watch desk subsequently called on the station’s PA system for the lieutenant. The officer then made a second announcement a minute or two later, calling for the lieutenant again, this time saying it was urgent. The lieutenant did not respond to either request, according to the report.
Three other firefighters in the station heard the announcement, and one of them asked the probationary officer what was going on. That firefighter then went to a bunk room to tell the lieutenant that a man across the street needed help and asked the lieutenant if she “was going to put them on the run.” She told the firefighter to get the exact address, but for some reason, the firefighter never returned; instead, according to the report, he gathered some books from his car and went to his bunk room to study.
The lieutenant went to look for the firefighter and when she found him lying in bed, he said dispatchers—-who had responded to a 911 call—-initially sent the engine to the wrong address, but said he “thought it was alright” since they had since sent another unit to the correct address. (The first group dispatched was sent to 1309 Rhode Island NW, instead of 1309 Rhode Island NE.) The lieutenant says she then went outside to observe the situation and saw a number of emergency personnel already on the scene. She did not inform her supervisor of the incident, according to the report.
About 10 minutes passed between the first 911 call and the arrival of the first fire truck on the scene, according to the report. A minute later, an ambulance on a separate call was flagged down to help. It took about 23 minutes from the time the first call was made to the time Mills was transported to Washington Hospital Center.
The District also released today the original 911 call made by a man, in which Mills’ daughter can be heard distressed in the background yelling that her father is not breathing, and to “please come on…the fire department is across the street.”
The report was supervised by deputy mayor for public safety Paul Quander Jr., and suggests disciplinary action ranging from reprimand to removal. Its recommendations also include a review of dispatching protocol, additional training for dispatchers, and a memo instructing fire department officials to assist the public whenever possible, even if they are not dispatched to the scene.
Read the full report below:
Photo courtesy of The Cochran Firm