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Home > Topics > EMS Management
January 31, 2014

2 DC responders placed on leave for standing by as man died

No action was taken against a probationary firefighter who told people seeking help for the dying man that they had to call 911 before anyone could respond

By EMS1 Staff

WASHINGTON — A D.C. fire lieutenant and a firefighter were put on administrative leave Thursday as officials investigate why a man who suffered a fatal heart attack outside a firehouse didn’t get care.

The Washington Post reported that the move comes one day after Lt. Kellene Davis, 51, met with the fire department’s internal affairs division.

In a letter to Fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe, Lt. Davis, a 28-year veteran, said a firefighter told her that someone had slipped and fallen across the street, according to the report. She said she told the firefighter to get an address and that she would go help. She said he never returned with the address and instead told her that an ambulance had already been dispatched. It was unclear whether that firefighter is the one who was placed on administrative leave.

No action has been taken against a probationary firefighter who told people who sought help for the dying man that they had to call 911 before anyone could respond, according to the report. Lt. Davis said in her letter to the chief that she reprimanded that firefighter for not ringing the station alarm.

Officials said the firefighter properly told the lieutenant that people were seeking help and that the investigation now centers on why nothing was done, according to the report.

The fatal incident occurred Saturday when 77-year-old Medric Cecil Mills Jr., who had worked for the D.C. Park District more than four decades, collapsed across the street from a fire station. His daughter, Marie Mills, said bystanders called 911 but also rushed to the station and banged on the door seeking help, according to the report.

“There’s nothing I can do if my lieutenant doesn’t tell me to go,” he reportedly said, according to Marie Mills. An ambulance and engine were dispatched from another location, but they were sent to the wrong quadrant of the city.

A D.C. police officer flagged down a passing ambulance; Mills was treated about 15 minutes after he collapsed. He died later at the hospital.

“There are no regulations or protocols that would have prevented [fire department] personnel on the scene from taking action to help Mr. Mills,” Paul A. Quander Jr., deputy mayor for public safety, said in a statement Thursday. “It’s hard to get your arms around how and why this happened.”

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