January 7, 2016

Tragic death highlights continuing problems with DCFD response

lawsuits against dc fire departmentA 67 year-old man died after firefighters responded to the call for help by going to the wrong house. Last Sunday, firefighters encountered police on the 400 block of 60th Street NE responding to a different call. DC Police, assuming DCFD were responding to the same call, waived off assistance after determining the subject in the MPD’s call for service did not require medical attention.

Following the encounter with police, firefighters informed dispatchers there was no need for medical assistance. EMS dispatchers then called off an additional firetruck and the ambulance en route. Only after another frantic call by the deceased’s family did EMS crews return. In all, the response was delayed 20 minutes. The fire station that dispatched fire and EMS crews was less than two miles away.

The victim passed away at Prince George’s County Hospital. He is survived by his wife, three children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Calling the incident a “human error”, Fire Chief Gregory Dean promised to review the matter and enact new protocols for calls to service requiring dispatchers to confirm addresses with EMS crews. Dean took over after former Fire Chief Ken Ellerbe resigned following the senseless death of Medric Cecil Mills.

Mills died in front of a DC firehouse in January 2014 after suffering a heart attack. While Mills’ family begged firefighters for help, he succumbed to his condition after no-one came to his aid. Karen E. Evans of The Cochran Firm, D.C. represents the legal interests of the Mills family, seeking justice for his untimely death and reform within the city’s fire and EMS departments.

Although reforms and oversight were promised by DCFD following Mills’ passing, it appears not enough change has been made to curb to problems facing the department. The brave men and women of DCFD provide the invaluable, life-saving services our city needs to be safe and it is unfortunate firefighters and the community face inadequacies in management and leadership.

After hearing about the latest incident involving DCFD’s failure to properly respond to an emergency call, Marie Mills, Mr. Mills’ daughter, said “I can’t believe almost two years later and DCFEMS still hasn’t changed.” Echoing her client’s sentiment, Ms. Evans released a statement saying “While DC has given lip service to change, the results speak for themselves. It is politics as usual.”

As a law firm committed to social justice and holding wrongdoers accountable, The Cochran Firm, D.C. will continue to actively monitor the situation.