Outgoing DC medical director testifies to council

Jullette Saussy clarified her complaints against the department and compared the D.C. systems with others from around the country

WASHINGTON — Outgoing D.C. Fire and EMS medical director Jullette Saussy testified during a council meeting Wednesday about the ongoing problems within the department that prompted her resignation after just seven months on the job.

WTOP.com reported that Saussy testified voluntarily to the committee in an effort to further explain the issues she has with the department and her reasoning for sending the mayor a scathing letter of resignation.

“During my seven months watching the four or five instances that occurred that seemed to be repetitions of similar instances and yet … their sense of urgency and mine are very different,” Saussy said.

Council members heard from Saussy and other medical directors who flew in from Fort Worth, Texas and Oklahoma City to compare how D.C. Fire and EMS differs from others around the country.

Saussy said the department is more heavily focused on leadership on the fire side and not on the medical response side, despite the fact that 80 percent of 911 calls were for EMS.

Council member Mary Cheh noted she sat on a task force for the D.C. Fire and EMS department 10 years ago that handled many of the same issues being faced today.

“I am losing faith,” said Cheh of the department. “Given where we are today, we have to have a serious conversation about the structure of D.C. Fire and EMS.”

Dr. Jeffrey Goodloe, an Oklahoma City and Tulsa medical director had similar concerns.

“If something decidedly different doesn’t happen here, the same hearing will happen in 2026. That would be a shame,” Dr. Jeffrey Goodloe said..

After the other medical directors spoke about the protocols at their departments, Saussy explained to the council members the fixes she was unable to make during her time as medical director.

“I was told … there’s a firewall. You’re not involved in policy changes and operations. It’s very difficult to run a system when you don’t have input into the nuts and bolts of the system,” Saussy said.

Committee chair Kenyan McDuffie expressed concern over the city’s plan to enter into a $12 million contract with American Medical Response to supplement the department’s current ambulance service.

“Does a third party contract work if we can’t routinely make these kinds of assessments that are critical?” McDuffie asked.

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