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DC Chief Kenneth Ellerbe defends plan to remove all ALS transport units from overnight hours. Says citizens better served moving medics to peak demand hours.

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Report on paramedic shortage

DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Kenneth Elllerbe got a couple of minutes to state his case in a live interview last night at the top of the 11:00 PM newscast on WUSA-TV. Chief Ellerbe wants to go to a peak scheduling plan for the department’s paramedics beefing up the number of paramedics working during the hours when the statistics show they are most needed. The most controversial aspect of the idea is the removal of all paramedic ambulances, or medic units, between 1:00 AM and 7:00 AM when Ellerbe says demand for those services goes down to about half the number of calls during the rest of the day.

Such peak loading has been attempted in the past in the Nation’s Capital. It can become controversial when a chief has to explain why a paramedic ambulance was sitting in quarters unstaffed at a time when a child around the corner goes into cardiac arrest. Chief Ellerbe points out that he doesn’t expect the wait time for receiving ALS care to increase during those hours because paramedics will still be responding aboard paramedic engine companies and there will be 21 to 25 basic life support ambulances available for transport overnight. In addition, there will be paramedic supervisors working during the off peak hours.

Chief Ellerbe was asked last night, and in a story a week earlier on WTTG-TV, about allegations of a paramedic shortage and the departure of overworked medics. The chief claims the rate of departure is lower the last two years than the previous two and that there is not really a paramedic shortage as claimed by the firefighters’ union.

But the question I have yet to hear anyone ask is the first that comes to my mind in these stories. When a fire call strips an area of paramedic engine companies and there is an immediate need for ALS around the corner how is easy is it going to be to defend the plan when the closest paramedics are aboard engines on the other side of the city?

My experience is that whatever the merits of this plan are or aren’t will take a back seat to the public and council members acceptance of it after the first news story about someone dying. In the past they have had trouble dealing with the concept that their neighborhood paramedic ambulance only comes to get you if you have your heart attack at 2:00 PM but isn’t staffed if it occurs at 2:00 AM. 

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Retired Chief

    This moron continues to surprise me with his total lack of reasoning and knowledge. How does someone this stupid exist in society.

    I feel so sorry for the DCFD firefighters. It’s one unqualified chief after another.

    • RJ(in florida)

      I thank GOD he’s not the chief in sarasota anymore

  • Commenter

    If you’re going to use power shift units to add capacity during the day, you can’t vacate capability at night. The second transport unit in stations can be part time, not the first.

    Fatal fires occur more often at night. High acuity medical calls do not decrease at night. Coupling ALS with first-in suppression will leave critical holes when either is needed for use.

  • Pipeman27

    One working fire on the east side of the river will tie up at least 6 of those paramedic engines. Then what’s left over there?

    • Doing it.

      You’re right Jamie.

      • Pipeman27

        Who’s this guy Jamie

  • retired medic

    so if the paramedic on the engine company has to ride in with the patient in the BLS unit sent to the scene to transport, does that engine company go out of service or do they respond to calls with less than a full crew. And what happens when their is a second EMS call in their first due area but they now have no ALS-trained person on board (since they are riding with the first patient to the hospital?)

    You can have all the ALS Supervisors you want, but they still will take time to get to a scene. Will they be required to “fill in” at stations where the ALS person is absent?

    Makes me wonder ow their ambulance service can be licensed as ALS when they will not have those fols on the ambulances?

    Do the statistics bear out any facts that there are few patients that require ALS care during those overnight hours? My experience of 20 years in “transport” EMS tells me we had some pretty serious calls at night (GI bleeds, Cardiacs, shootings, high speed collisions, etc.)

    • Doing it.

      The medic “switches” out with the fireman on the ambulance when the medic transports, the wagon goes in service as a regular wagon. The supervisors are rarely dispatched and certainly don’t transfer. Run volume in generally is lower overnight which is how the chief got his figure of less ALS required. Let me say this about DCEMS, I have had 20+ transports for 3, 24 hour shifts in a row before I had a serious patient.

    • Mark too

      As far as the ALS license thing goes, if DC’s regulations are similar to my state, then there wouldn’t be an issue with this plan from that point because the physical on-duty staffing for a unit is not directly tied to it’s authorized service level. In PA, typically ALS transport units are “cross-licensed” as ALS/BLS units. This allows the unit to be staffed as either an ALS or a BLS unit. As such, the transport units for a service could be staffed BLS and then meet up on scene with a paramedic in a response unit, a supervisor or in this case, a paramedic engine and become an ALS transport unit at that point. From a licensure standpoint, as long as the service has an ALS resource available to respond for a specific percentage of ALS calls received, it doesn’t matter that the unit left the station with 2 EMTs or that the responding paramedic is on an engine coming from the other side of the city. Now even though this may be “legal”, it may not be the best deployment strategy from a delivery of care standpoint.

  • the ear

    I can’t believe what this fool comes up with to cure DCFD’s problems. Another plan that will not work. It has not been thought out.He looked at stats and came up with the so called solution.

  • Bogus

    This guy is a joke. Has done nothing but divide the department and lower morale. This idea is ridiculous. It’s not like DC doesn’t have money and needs to come up with ways to provide coverage on limited budget. Not to mention that most ALS calls in the middle of the night are actual ALS calls.. Nonetheless, the idea that medics aren’t leaving is BS. And now we are so short that many medic units are downgraded to basic units EVERY DAY. Unfortunately the problem goes so deep that this will have zero impact whatever way it goes. The city uses the fire dept as a taxi cab to the hospital for everything. Stubbed toes, runny nose, the citizens need to be educated on what constitutes and emergency and what constitutes abuse of the system and a waste of resources. Dispatch needs to learn how to allocate resources, as the stubbed toe is not an ALS call just because the child’s great grandfather had a heart attack. Ellerbe does not have the creativity or the leadership quality to solve the departments problems. And Dave is right, when all PECs are on a working fire, the citizens better not have a medical emergency..

  • DCFDmember

    LiaRB is at it again.

    We do have a lot of vacancies, and many of them are paramedic vacancies. Why do they constantly hold paramedics over after their shift ends if they have enough medics?

    We are have lost a lot of paramedics (along with losing a lot personnel overall) ever since LRB took over. His comment about how we had more people leave the department in the two years prior to the two years he has been at the helm is not true. And we are losing more people all the time as many more will be going soon. We have had a record amount of resignations since he took office, and we’ve never seen people resign at that rate before.

    His claim that we are hiring people as quickly as we can is not true either. They have done very little hiring since LRB took over, and he has hired very few if any paramedics. And the few classes he has hired kept having their start date pushed back, so that compounded trying to fill any vacancies in a timely manner.

    He also claimed that the EMS civilian’s union is supportive of his new plan. We haven’t heard them publicly state that, but from hearing from some of their members it may be just their union president and his few cronies who support this plan.

    LRB then questioned the 36% figure the firefighters union has stated. The data that the firefighters union has stated about this being a 36% reduction in service during the 1 am to 7 am time period is accurate. It’s very simple math. You take the amount of transport units you have, you subtract the amount that will no longer be in service from 1 am to 7 am, and then you do some basic math which will tell you that it’s a 36% reduction in service.

    The paramedic engines (PECs) may not always be available during the hours when there will be less transport units in service. If there is a fire, that will strip a lot of those resources from an area. With all of the transport units being BLS during those hours, the engine’s medic will have to do a lot more transports. That will cause the PECs to be downgraded more often to BLS engine companies.

    Although there are less calls from 1 am to 7 am, DC is still very busy during those hours. The population of DC is growing, and with that a lot more people today call for ambulances. What DC needs to do is add more daytime transport units, but not at the expense of decreasing the amount of transport units available at night. Along with DC getting more residents, with a lot more businesses coming to DC that also brings a lot more people every day into the city. DC needs to increase it’s emergency service capabilities to meet the demands of this growing number of people in the city.

    • Anonymous

      Bingo; and the fact the AFC-O is going along with this only shows how spinless this guy is too.

    • DCFDmember

      Also, if there aren’t many paramedic vacancies, why then are there numerous paramedic ambulances downgraded to BLS ambulances all of the time?

      And on Friday and Saturday nights, the call volume from 1 am to 7 am can get very high. Especially when the clubs let out at 2 am.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure that the person that is in severe respiratory distress at 0300 will love having to wait for an engine company from the other side of the city because this “chief” has no idea what he is doing. Some of the most involved ALS calls I have ever run were between these said hours, not the overloaded volume calls due to the “do gooders” with their cell phones find the urban outdoorsman laying on the sidewalk, or the doctor’s office that’s about to close, or the nursing home for “abnormal labs for 3 days”

  • Anonymous

    The disaster is predictable. The data used to support peak staffing is strictly from utilization rates. It has nothing to do with the fact that after midnight weekend runs increase or that you will kill the engines in the middle of the night. Can’t wait to see the “paramedic engine strike team “for a carbon monoxide poisoning or accident with multiple victims after 1 am then a working fire and an engine co coming from the other side of the City.

    This is not new information, however. Everyone from the Chief on down knows this. Ther are 3 factors which are driving this, IMO.

    First, the Chief is using Andy B’s data plan, strictly as a way to show efficiency through managing numbers. It scores Brownie points with Mendelson although it flies in the face of quality on puts a hurt on the firefighter-paramedics but that is just fine with the Chief — they are part of Local 36 and the most important thing for him is to crush’em. If 36 doesn’t support a 2-2-4 and then Ellerbe will make it very difficult in the middle of the night until mistakes occur and put it on the men.

    Second, the remaining civilian EMS under Ken Lyons are going along becaus ethey know it will fail after some overnight deaths and the firefighters crying about getting crushed, that it might bring changes to the structure of the system: ie, pulling it out of the Fire Dept or even the mandating of a 2-2-4 shift for ALL FIREFIGHERS.

    Third, even with no political ploy by the Chief, the upper ranks of the Dept neither understand nor care for the concerns of the paramedics. Period. To a certain extent this includes the Local 36 Exec Board who neither have to ride an ambulance or are paramedics. The medics are in a void. The sad reality about this is being a firefighter -paramedic is almost like slave labor. You are paid 4500 before tax to do about 45000 worth of medical work. The ALS reimbursement is put back into the general fund. The smartest guys doing the most work for the least money. Then you have to deal with this mentally ill Medical Director and a failed system of training, service delivery , discipline, and so-called quality assurance. Who would want to be a paramedic is DC at this point? A fool?

  • Anonymous

    So no medic units at all will be in service after 1am?!? How can the chief say there is not a shortage of paramedics with zero medic units in service?!? We can ALL see how this is going to turn out…

  • Anon

    So no medic units at all will be in service after 1am?!? How can the chief say there is not a shortage of paramedics with zero medic units in service?!? We can ALL see how this is going to turn out…

  • Anonymous

    How about the interview on FOX 5 last night, where his ultimate justification was ‘everyone is going to die sometime’ It was obvious he was going to say that as he stopped himself. Great display of leadership and accountability.

  • Anonymous

    Ellerbee, your redeployment of Paramedics to Day Shift may have some merit. However you seem to put aside the fact the most serious ALS calls occur during the night time. ie; Shootings, Stabbings, seious Fires where serious to critical Burns are happening. Come on Ellerbee, you know better than that. Nightime people out late drinking and Driving. Serious Motor Vehicle Collissions, with critical Injuries are sustained. The most important issue here Have available an increase of Medic Units during the night. Ellerbee the solution this plan has willnot make the absolute changes and Medic Units available when and where they are needed. You have a class of Firefighters in Training. But no Paramedic Classes are scheduled. The need for additional Paramedics is obviously
    needed. The sense of urgency is do it now. Come on Ellerbee wake up smell the coffee. Where are your priorities? A good example to follow here, “The Rosenbaum Incident, Did it occur during the Day Light Hours, or during the pitch dark of night?

  • Ted

    So Chief LRB, which one is it?

    A. You are at Full ALS staffing?

    B. You are down “a few” postions?

    C. You are hiring as fast as you can?

    D. You are down 100 ALS providers?

    The way he contradicted himself during the interview, I place my money on D.

  • ALS

    You need medics, pay them what they are worth and they will come in droves to work for you.
    Why havent we pulled the medics off the engines and run BLS engines. Medics need to be on transport units and THEN if there are more medics, put them on the engines.
    Reardless, more medics are needed. Get them anyway you can. Taking them off nights is stupid.

    • Doing it.

      If you pull the medics off the wagons you will have even more vacancies.

  • E Dub

    “So we’re trying to adjust our schedule, adjust our service and remodel to make sure we can meet the demand of the community,” Ellerbe continued.

    You’re not baking cupcakes, Kenny…. You’re dealing with lives!

  • Concerned Citizen

    I’m a lifelong resident of DC. If there are only firetrucks with paramedics on board, what happens if there is a fire? Does that mean there will be no paramedics at all? This is scaring me!

    • Pipeman27

      That’s exactly what it means

  • Ted

    This is just the chase-truck (fly-car) ALS model from 1 AM to 7 AM, only the chase-truck is very big and has 4 providers, one of whom is ALS. And it is a duel-role unit that can only handle one call at a time.

    The problem is, chase-truck ALS only works really well in low call volume rural areas. It is not suited to urban or even suburban call-volume. It is simply not efficient use of your resources.

    This plan does nothing more than rob Peter to Paul, either way you look at this EMS or fire resources will suffer during these magic 6 hours.

    • commenter

      Chase truck works fine. Chase engine is stupid, unless you don’t really need the engine. My guess is that Ellerbe doesn’t realize that he really does need the engines.

      In a few months, after they lock up Vince Gray, and the new mayor decides to punt Ellerbe for all his bad news, if there aren’t enough ALS providers to provide service, the answer will be chase cars — get the medics off of BLS transports and AFAs, keep them available for ALS dispatches.

      If they need some time on engines to avoid burnout and have a career, rotate them out as you have staffing available.

  • Anonymous

    EllerBONE is a scarey individual. He’s got so much education he’s stupid.

  • FF6

    Concerned Citizen, Lets take SE for an example, all 5 Eng. Co in SE are PEC Companies with only 2 medic units, THAT’S IF IT IS NOT DOWN GRADED TO A BASIC UNIT which occurs almost everyday. If there is a FIRE in SE, you pretty much have to wait for a PEC Co to come from NW or NE for ALS care. Lets not forget, if there is a shooting,stabbing,heart attack etc. there is a possibility that the pt will not be given the proper care/ meds needed in time.

  • Inside looking in

    “The sky is falling!”, “People are going to die!” All you have to do is change the year on this movie, the plot stays the same. Lets call this what this really is “a referendum on getting rid of the Chief”. Any smart person who has time on the job knows that changing Chief isn’t going to solve the problem. If you came here to be a ff/medic and didn’t do your due diligence on how this place was run, then you are the fool. I guess being able to tell folks that you were a bad azz city fireman was enough. Also lets be real L36 could less about that ALS bs. They want to make you feel like you belong.

  • ClownShow

    I blame the “stakeholders” of the city for allowing this guy to collect a pay check while he puts their loved ones in danger. Way to go DC!

  • Shhh…

    Its not going to take a WMD situation but maybe something more like a “simple” MCI to oust LRB. Let there be another Metro accident at 545 am and see where he will be looking for his next department to screw up. Keep digging your hole FEMS boss.

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  • thetruth

    There is NO PARAMEDIC SHORTAGE at DC FEMS. It has been stated that there are over 240 paramedics at DC FEMS. For a population of ~618,000 that is >39 medics per 100,000 citizens. If anything, that is too many. (Boston, Seattle, Newark, Jersey City, NYC, Austin, Houston, etc. all do just fine with much less.) To start, take ALL paramedics from fire engines and put them on ambulances or chase cars where they belong. ALS engines have NO evidence to support the notion that they improve patient outcomes (anything FEMS says otherwise is nothing but a scare tactic – don’t be fooled by them or any other FD). Take the money from Medic-FFs and put it toward a robust call screening and dispatch service and you could cut the number of needed medics units to single digits.

    • Anonymous

      Since you seem to know it all show us the breakdown of Boston, Seattle, Newark, Jersey City, NYC, Austin, Houston, etc. I would like to see the proof of what you speak. Until then you have no credability. Right where you belong.

      • thetruth

        You asked…
        Boston – 5 medic units at peak hours, 3 at off peak, no ALS engines (70 medics in 2008 – this number is from a presentation done by the medical director). Boston’s pop. is larger than DC.
        Seattle – 7 medics units at all times, no ALS engines. 74 medics for a population nearly the same as DC. (12.2/100,000)
        Newark – 4 at peak hours (not counted: the truck dedicated to orange and east orange, and the one dedicated to the airport)
        Jersey City – 6 medic units at peak hours for all of Hudson County (pop 580k)
        Austin – 25 medic units – no ALS engines
        NYC – No ALS engines, more BLS than ALS ambulances
        Houston – 37 medic units, 51 BLS (few ALS engines)

        This info is available at the respective websites.

        • Titanic

          Apples to oranges

          City – ems runs / population
          Washington, D.C. – 128,255 / 617,996

          Boston – 31,037 / 625,087
          Seattle – 63,239 / 620,778
          Newark – 14,710 total calls (no ems run total listed) / 277,540
          Jersey City – (not listed) / 250,323
          Austin – 50,469 / 820,611
          NYC – 1,236,730 / 8.2449 Million
          Houston – 229,004 / 2.1451 Million
          Cities that have close to the same total ems runs
          Baltimore – 128,310 / 619,493
          Pheonix – 126,693 / 1.4695 Million
          San Antonio – 124,701 / 1.3598 Million

          With the exception of NYC and Houston, DCFD runs way more ems runs than these other examples. And more fire runs too. Baltimore is a good example to compare ems runs and population, but (correct me if I’m wrong) everyone in B’more is trained at the medic level.

          How about a per capita comparison: (in order)

          1. DC – 1:4.82 ems run to persons ratio
          2. B’more – 1:4.83
          3. NYC – 1:6.67
          4. Houston – 1:9.37
          5. Seattle – 1:9.82
          6. San Antonio – 1:10.90
          7. Pheonix – 1:11.60
          8. Austin – 1:16.26
          9. Newark – 1:18.87(based on total runs)
          10. Boston – 1:20.14

          By the ratios, DC in the busiest (with ems runs) per capita compared to these other cities.

          2009 Firehouse 2009 national run survey

          US Census Bureau

          • thetruth

            EMS and rescue in Newark is provided by University Hospital EMS. Their BLS trucks respond to >68,000 (ALS is co-dispatched for ALS calls and may be sent alone, so their actual volume is probably higher). Anyhow 277,540/68,000 = 1:4.08 calls.

            Jersey City is similar. EMS is run by Jersey City Medical Center. 250,323/54,709 BLS calls = 1:4.5

            EMS in Austin is Covered by Austin-Travis County EMS, so the actual number of EMS calls is likely to be considerably more than 50,000, but I do doubt they are s busy as DC or other cities mentioned (their total volume for the who county is < DCs).

            Don't get me wrong, though, I agree, based on known numbers, that DC is busy.

            B'more as far as I know, has medics, intermediates, and EMTs. I don't know much else about them (not much out there.)

    • Anonymous

      I would like to believe that a “robust” call screening system would reduce the amount of ALS volume however read the new protocols. Everything is ALS. ALS is the new BLS in DC.

    • reality check

      The truth is you mouth is cashing checks your data can’t provide. #1 the agency does NOT have 240 available medics. #2 pretending we do, 240/4 shifts=60, 618,000/60 is 9.7 per 100,000 #3 We actually have about 175ish operational medics that’s about 7 per 100,000. #4 Firefighter medics are just that, Firefighters. So guess where they belong.

      • thetruth

        Considering that firefighters do more EMS than fire… I’d say that firefighter medics are just that, medics. So, I don’t need to guess where they belong – it’s obvious.

        175 medics is still a lot. No shortage in so far as I can tell, just misappropriation of resources.

    • Titanic

      There’s a problem with your math. If there really are 240 medics working for DC, only 25% of them will be on duty at any given time, bc of 4-shifts. That means 60 medics for “~618,000″ citizens. That’s only one medic per 10,300 citizens or <10 medics per 100,000. That's not even counting when units are downgraded due to medics calling off sick.
      So LRB wants to take 14 medic units off the street at night and utilize them during the hours when more than 1,000,000 citizens & commuters are in the city.
      618,000 citizens/60 medics= 10,300:1 ratio.

      Under LRB's plan:
      1,000,000 daytime pop./74 medics=~13,513:1 ratio.

      Nighttime minus 14 medic units:
      618,000 nighttime pop./46 medics=~13,434:1 ratio

      This plan doesn't add up.

      • thetruth

        60 medics per shift is enough to staff 30 ambulances with 2 medics each. Or, 60 ambulances with 1 medic and 1 EMT. Or 20 ambulances with 3 medics each. Or 14 ambulances with 4 medics each and then 3 medics in chase cars. Nope, still not seeing where the shortage is.

        I am definitely seeing how the FEMS is mismanaged, though.

        • Titanic

          60 medics assumes full staffing and doesn’t take into account AL, SL, MIP, POD, at the TA etc. and that the total number of medics actually is 240. The other number that has been referenced is 175 total medics in the city. That rounds up to 44 medics per shift (Not counting any on leave).
          Your point about how medics can be distributed is true, but it’s assuming that the medics are all on transport units, and they’re not. 21 of those medics are on engine companies (not counting those downgraded bc medic is on leave). That is also not counting when those Engine companies are tied up on the fire ground. A basic working fire can tie up 6 PEC’s and a Medic unit and an ems supervisor. That’s 8 paramedics committed to a run. By LRB’s plan, this common scenario occurring between 0100 and 0700 would mean approx. 30% of the medics in the entire city are tied up for ONE RUN.
          Again, this doesn’t account for PEC’s downgraded, and medics already tied up on other runs.

        • Anonymous

          Truth on the last count we had 160(give or take) total operational medics. The civilians make up 50-55, of which half or more do not show up for work.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed, EMS should be a separate service.

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  • Ol Skool 86

    Is all a smokescreen to destroy morale even more and suck up to the ems union president. The single role providers dont come to work, which ff pick up the slack, they hardly go on any runs cause the Pec companies take all the runs, and now they dont even have to work at night? not to mention they all show up 1 minute after relief time so they get paid an hour of OVERTIME, its rediculous.LRB doesn’t care about any Dcfd ff unless you follow him around and bow down. He still is harassing people, threatening to demote people violating his own orders. Citizens, open your eyes….because the mayors eyes are closed. I encourage all members to take time on medical calls to explain to the CITIZENS the outrageous actions of this chief and call for his dismissal……..

  • DC Firefighter/Paramedic

    1)The District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department does not currently maintain the appropriate number of personnel to operate the proposed new “Powershift”.

    2)The District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department barely has enough personnel and units in service to operate normal business safely for the employees and the citizens.

    3)The Fire and EMS Chief has not hired any personnel with the exception of a few Firefighter/EMT Cadets since the beginning of his tenure as Chief.

    4)Due to the attrition rate and Firefighter/Paramedics leaving to work for other departments accross the country because the Fire and EMS chief has created a hostile work environment for all employees, the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department is currently operating under capacity. Employees and citizens are suffering very badly because of the Fire and EMS Chiefs inactions to resolve the problems and fix the broken system.

    5)Many times there are usually Paramedic Transport Units downgraded in the city everyday to Basic Transport Units staffed by Firefighter/EMT because the amount of Single-Role EMS Providers (AFGE Local 3721)is not sufficient to maintain service.

    6)Firefighter/Paramedics are running 95% of all ALS Service in the District of Columbia 24/7, 365.

    7)Paramedic Engine Companies were originally used to supplement the EMS System of Paramedic Transport Units. Paramedic Engine Companies have now become the primary ALS Response Resource in the District of Columbia which is taxing the entire sstem to the maximum work load.

    8)Response Times are getting longer every day. The citizens of the District of Columbia are suffering due to a severe delay in ALS Interventions. Units are traveling out of the normal response area to areas all over the city. This dramatically increases response time for ALS to the citizens.

    9)The Fire and EMS Chief is a BLATANT VINDICTIVE RACIST. He has demoted or transferred several caucasian command officers and promoted his african american friends in their place.

    10)The Fire and EMS Chief REFUSES to communicate constructively and cooperatively with IAFF Local 36.

    11)The Fire and EMS Chief is lying to the public to make himself look good to the mayor. Every citizen and every employee is suffering because of detrimental actions.

    12)The Fire and EMS Chief has acreated a hostile work environment for all employees. Employees are leaving in droves because of it.

    13)The Fire and EMS Chief is ripping the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department apart. It is affecting the safety of how employees operate to provide service to the citizens of the city. The Fire and EMS Chief does not act with the citizens and employees in mind. He needs to be removed before the Fire and EMS Department fails to operate appropriately and people die.

    • anonymous

      Just like the last Fire Chief who didn’t discipline white firefighters and demoted black firefighters. Don’t cry racism now you didn’t do it when the white chief was in charge.

      • Anonymous

        So the last Chief was racist, so it is OK that the current one is?

        What was that they taught in pre-school, oh yeah, Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right!

    • xray

      DCFF/Paramedic, transfers have been used in time for many reasons including punishment.You all make it seem as though the chief invented transfers.You are 100% incorrect if you believe a home grown citizen of Washington DC doesnt care about his community.Your assessment meter is way off.I highly doubt the chief WISHES someone’s house burns at the expense of him getting a little action (seriously doubt it).Theres only one thing that all members agree on and that was the schedule change,which didnt happen.I can’t speak of the problems that medics face on the job because I am not a medic.But there are some issues that need to be addressed such as increasing the pay for medics which you all deserve.I find it disturbing that many on here act like the department is worse now than previous years.Your entitled to your opinion as anyone on here.But when you say he (the chief)doesnt care about the community where the hell did you get that from.Oh I know from the watch desk fan club which is as bogus as fox news.I ask you what have you done to address the needs of medics?.Have you typed a special report to the leadership with innovative ideas to improve the efficiency of the department.What about requesting an audience with the chief so you can state your concerns in person.Everyone wants to criticize but no one wants to take thier ideas to management for consideration.The friction between membership(some)started upon the chief being selected for the position.Than once he got rid of DCFD and the shorts thats when all h@ll broke loose.I think we can all be better served if you can be constructive with your ideas and bring them forth.Why isnt the union on tv stating our case for raises and benefits the way they were over wearing dcfd “T” shirts.This is all rediculous to me how we are acting its a shame.

  • ukfbbuff

    No matter how much Ellerbee “Spin’s” his plan its wrong!

  • ***********

    Until the district starts paying paramedics comparable to the other localities they will always have this problem. This is a nationwide problem not just a local problem. When a paramedic makes less money then a firefighter something is wrong with this system. Nothing against a FF I’m a retired FF/Paramedic but most of the medics are not treated fairly regardless of where you go in the area. Most times they are treated as 2nd class staff.

    • xray

      I agree with you whoever you are.Medics are under paid in this department.DC needs a trauma center in SE for one,that would keep those units in close proximity for local calls.Second additional units need to be placed in service to lighten the load of the other units beng overwhelmed.There are several issues that need to be addressed its not a one answer solution.

  • chiefbobr

    From time to time during my 20 + years tenure as Fire Chief, I had to deal with elected offcials who questioned why we had the same number of personnel on duty late at night, when there were fewer calls, as we had on duty during busier hours. I pointed out to them that while it’s true that there are fewer alarms late at night, many of those tended to be more serious, whether they were fires or medical calls, as opposed to routine incidents. I was also able to back that argument up with stats that confirmed the number of more serious incidents during that time frame.

    In general, BLS/ALS units are added as additional services during times of increased responses and not subtracted from other, slower shifts. This goes to the concept of response times and distances, which does not change no matter what the time of day is. Further, elimination of all ALS response units during any time of day regardless of call volume is a mistake, and one that I think Chief Ellerbe will come to regret if this misguided policy is allowed to go into effect.

  • Anonymous

    Go back and look at some old lists. A whole lot of white firefighters were disciplined or terminated under that last white chief. I will refrain from using names. At any rate using that thought process only shows your mentality.

  • Just Sayin

    Finally figured out what LRB must really stand for … Loser, Really Big … how does anyone with basic math skills … I know, assumes facts not in evidence … figure that taking 14 transport units, whether ALS or BLS, equates to no degradation of service … Just Sayin

  • watchdogdc

    The fact of the matter is the Chief wants to hire single role paramedics. In doing so he is going to make a reqiurement that those people hired are city residents only that is why he has not hired any medics since he has been in his position. The other piece of the puzzle is he is listening to his buddy Kenny the habitual liar Lyons who feeds him a crock of bull on a regular basis. The statement the Chief made about this plan not being final shows this is not a well thought out plan there are huge gaps in his plan and he made this catch all statement to be able to backtrack since there are people that see the gapsin his ill faited plan and are pointing them out. I would like to give a shout out to Mr. Mendelson for stopping the plan before someone died. Don’t back off Phil you are a smart guy so I am sure you and the rest or most of the council are starting to see how dishonest, decetful, condesending, and disqualified this clown the corrupt Mayor handed the job of Fire Chief to is.

    • Anonymous

      I think the problem is not having a single-role medic, the problem is the service model of a paramedic engine in a non-1+1 system. Unfortunately, if 36 was serious about EMS, esp helping the medic situation, the name in the Local Charter would have been changed to Firefighers and Paramedics.

      LOL – hiring city residents only as paramedics. This will take several years worth of programming.

  • Anonymous

    FUBAR about sums it up. This plan is just the tip of the iceberg. THe Chief, AFC’s, Med Dir, OUC Classon Code Failure, Customer Service Myth of Urban Fire Service as installed by Dennis Rubin. All part of a major problem within the District. Prediction — civilian death, more medic turnover, and the blame on the Firemen for not “getting with the EMS program.”

    The District is awash in white collar demographics that doesn’t care about organized labor and interests that want to keep taxes for services as low as possible and foster new business to the district by supressing any bad press, ie, the Wash Post.

    • xray

      Stop using terror tactics like civilian “deaths”.Everytime a plan is initiated that firemen donot agree with they always seem to use those two words.Yes we need more medics,more ambulances on the sreet and trauma center in SE.The fact of the matter is people are going to die whether this plan works or not. Usually when firemen give their 2cents about how things should be done and what the ending result will be they have been wrong.For the sake of the citizens and my family members I hope the powershift work.In the meantime lets keep doing what we do providing great ems amd customer service to the pblic.


    What a joke this department has become. Apparatus in disrepair, training sucks, overworked, no contract, disability sucks and I could go on. How do we rate to other departments? What would it take to get DCFD back on top? How about some ALS/BLS transport stats……

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately I am a member of Local 3721 and I am completely against this plan as is every member of the local that I have spoken to. King Lyons cancelled the membership meeting where this was to be discussed and he decided to tell everyone that the local supports this on his own.

  • Detroit fire

    Sounds like you guys need too seek employment in other places, maybe B-More or Mo-county.
    Do You have to be a resident to work for D.C.? I will be leaving the army in March looking to become a firefighter but all of the big city’s want you to be a resident.

  • Anonymous

    Were is Charlie when you need him…………. :)

  • Hurtinginthehood

    And where the hell is your union? Over worked no contract, sounds like whinning to me! Try firehouses closing members laid off. Then try only making 36,000 a year, and having 2 times the jobs a week!o

  • Ol Skool 86

    The chief said we have a 98% approval rating amongst the citizens,,SO WHY CHANGE ANYTHING. this is all a ploy to make the FF seem like we are overworked and crying so he can attempt to PITCH a shift change for us. Nothing is what it seems on the surface. There will be no contract because he wants shift change verbiage in it,so forget about that. latest used line ” I don’t care what the books say, do what I say, I’m The Fire Chief ! ” it’s ridiculous…….



    @ANONYMOUS….Rubin terminated me and last time i checked myself in the shower, I was 100% WHITE……in addition, there were plenty of white fireman who were disciplined by way of suspensions and placed on CSU Units for 6 months or more…Yes, there too were those who avoided discipline because they were either apart of Larry’s club or their daddy was somebody and that was what you’re referring to so don’t use race of the last administration to justify your comment and what King Ellerbe and a few of his minions are doing…..

    If you thinking like you are and are sitting back enjoying what Ellerbe is doing, then be careful who you root for, because not only will you ne remembered after the King is gone, but you too may be on the receiving end of the next Fire Chief’s payback disciplinary system….I hope you’re not, because my wish is to oneday have a chief that doesnt have the qualities the current one has nor the qualities of the last one…

    • xray

      HOOK, you were one of the few who didnt fall under the cloak of shultz umbrella.There was a vast disparity in discipline among whites and black firefighters from shultz reign.There were so called untouchables back than,but not now.As one navigates this job alliances are made as well as enemies.For that reason alone is why things will never be fair.Shultz exercise his right to discriminate,deny,punish,transfer among other things when he was in power.Not preaching but no one will ever be satisfied with a leader at the top.Ive been here 12yrs and I have never heard anyone totally satified with any chief.So I say continue to address your concerns.You seem to be an intelligent guy but I think you need to do it in a more positive way.

  • Joke City

    Always have to bring the race card into the game. Both present and former great leaders should be proud of themselves. “NOT”. Focus on the real game and get the low life scume crooks out of this city.

  • Anonymous

    what is mpd site like the watchdesk anyone thanks

  • WonderingIm

    Does the Bethesda Rescue Service from Maryland still service the rich NW neighborhoods in DC?

  • welcome to our world

    Gee,what a great department this is. I mean look at how everyone gets along and has eachothers back.Theres no discrimination,inside cliques,separate fraternaties,or mostly one color firehouses.People can really see the brotherhood that we enjoy here in good ol dcfd(I mean dcfire&ems). Keep up the ol tradition of taking us back to the good ol bad days.I love this job.