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Home > EMS Products > Ambulances

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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Steve Rowland Steve Rowland Friday, January 31, 2014 3:35:59 PM While there may not have been protocols from preventing responders from helping, there was no protocol
Steve Rowland Steve Rowland Friday, January 31, 2014 3:38:51 PM ( continued) permitting responders to help and therein lies the problem. Part of the solution to this regrettable incident is a protocol instructing staff what to do when incidents like this happen so the result may have a positive outcome.
Ryan Beck Ryan Beck Friday, January 31, 2014 5:07:44 PM Steve.....forget protocols. about common sense....I realize there is a cs drought in dc....THERE IS THE PROBLEM!!!! These idiots should b fired and prosecuted!!!!!
Larry Landrus Larry Landrus Friday, January 31, 2014 5:21:13 PM The old adage, if this was your mom or dad what would you want someone to do for them. Its simple notify your dispatch your out of service and if its not your district request the district to respond while your providing care. It doesn't matter if its a fire or medical emergency or criminal act. Assist the public in their time of need and call for assistance from who covers the area. Then ask the questions later after the right thing was done for what ever reason it was done for,
Tim Taylor Tim Taylor Friday, January 31, 2014 5:52:54 PM Really? A human being would have helped. You don't need protocol for that.
Friday, January 31, 2014 6:06:08 PM This has nothing to do with protocol! But nothing will come of this...the union will see to that. It's using a victim's life to make a statement...a very BAD statement. This has everything to do with what we entered this career field help others. If I ever heard that one of my firefighters had the audacity to disregard a human life for such a pitiful excuse they would be out the door so fast it wouldn't have time to hit them in the butt on the way out. There would be no administrative leave for weeks and weeks. I would dare them to try and sue with such a pitiful excuse for letting someone die that they could have tried to help when they were literally seconds away. This act is a disgusting example of someone in this line of work for all the WRONG reasons....
Steve Rowland Steve Rowland Friday, January 31, 2014 7:08:39 PM Nothing will come of this BECAUSE there was no protocol. Mark my words.
Joy Spencer Joy Spencer Saturday, February 01, 2014 12:13:43 AM What about a duty to act. If someone is sick or injured asking for help and you are on duty, you have a duty to act plain and simple. The people are a disgrace!
Matt Leskiw Matt Leskiw Saturday, February 01, 2014 3:49:55 AM I know it's been said many times "Ya can't fix Stupid!" or "Common Sense"
Steve Rowland Steve Rowland Sunday, February 02, 2014 6:07:25 PM Well, they make a bunch of rules that say "you CAN'T do this and you CAN'T do that" but nothing about what you CAN do. Remember, permission and forgiveness.
Saturday, February 08, 2014 6:16:58 AM Steve, not everything requires a protocol. Please keep that in mind if you ever come upon a circumstance where there is no rule and a person needs help.
Lars Olsen Lars Olsen Saturday, February 08, 2014 2:05:15 PM Were they firefighters or were they firefighter/paramedics? Was there an ambulance in the station or just fire apparatus? There are a lot more questions that need to be asked. Certainly at the very least someone should have gone with a portable, contacted fire control and advised them of the situation.
Charlie Anderson Charlie Anderson Sunday, February 09, 2014 3:43:40 AM The best thing to do now is for every wise and progressive Fire and EMS department across the country be proactive and make sure that all their personnel know how to handle a situation like this. Good policy is that if your station is contacted by the public face to face seeking help, you contact dispatch on the radio and ask them to generate a run number. Then grab your bags and go to work. It is a service oriented occupation and the general public is the customer.