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DC paramedic, firefighter wait 20 minutes for police response to attack

The paramedic wrestled with a knife-wielding woman as a firefighter pleaded with dispatchers to send police

By FireRescue1 Staff

WASHINGTON — After a paramedic and firefighter waited over 20 minutes Thursday during a dangerous 911 call, the D.C. police chief said miscommunication contributed to the delayed response.

According to NBC Washington, fire and EMS responded to a call from a woman who reported a heart attack. Crews then said the woman threatened to harm them and herself, prompting first responders to request police backup.

Dispatch recordings denoted a firefighter repeatedly asked for police assistance with increased intensity. After the sixth call, the dispatcher informed the firefighter that police would not be coming to the scene, reported WTOP.

“Per supervisor, they said officials advise they’re not coming back to that location,” the dispatcher said.

The firefighter then used the 10-33 code, meaning a firefighter’s life is in danger.

“We need them here, now!” the firefighter said during his fifth call to 911.

When police did respond to the scene, the woman was arrested for assaulting emergency personnel. Witnesses said the paramedic was wrestling the woman to get the knife from her and protect himself and the firefighter.

“The fire department clearly needed some assistance, and that information wasn’t clearly communicated to the [police] officer in the field,” D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said.

The chief also said that information between fire and police was not being directly relayed because the departments operate on different radio zones.

“We consider them to be brothers and sisters in public safety and we stand side-by-side from day to day on every one of these scenes that we go to,” Chief Newsham said.

An internal investigation is underway.