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DC Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe says two recent news stories aren’t accurate. Sends out press releases on training academy sexual harassment & provides a timeline on New Year’s ambulance delay story.

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Previous coverage of Training Academy story

Previous coverage of New Year’s ambulance delay & billing

Read Chief Kenneth Ellerbe’s statement on Training Academy story

Read Chief Kenneth Ellerbe’s statement & timeline on New Year’s ambulance delay

Yesterday evening Lon Walls, communications director for the DC Fire & EMS Department, sent out press releases on behalf of Chief Kenneth Ellerbe that described two recent news stories about the department as inaccurate. One is Chief Ellerbe’s detailed response to a story broadcast by WRC-TV/NBC 4 way back on February 8 about a bill for services to the family of a man who died on New Year’s Day. There was a lengthy wait for an ambulance in that case because of staffing shortages. For the first time since the incident occurred, the department has issued a detailed timeline. Click here for the release.

The second story is the one we brought you yesterday from WJLA-TV/ ABC 7 about claims by female cadets about sexual harassment at the Training Academy. Here is that  release.

On this page are the two follow-up stories the TV stations did in reaction to the press releases from Chief Ellerbe. Above is the video from the Training Academy story and below is what was published on WRC-TV/NBC 4‘s website about the ambulace issue:

D.C. Fire and EMS released a statement Thursday explain what happened early New Year’s Day, when a man died after waiting for an ambulance.

Durand Ford Sr. waited 30 minutes for an ambulance as he was having trouble breathing and that ambulance came from Maryland, according to his family. While fire officials acknowledge a delay in getting an ambulance to the scene, they said a paramedic was on scene providing appropriate care in 10 minutes.

According to D.C. fire, after the call was dispatched at 1:26 a.m., a fire truck responded at 1:35 a.m. and a second truck – one with the paramedic – arrived at 1:37 a.m. A call for additional assistance was placed at 1:40 a.m., and because no D.C. ambulances were available, Prince George’s County responded to a mutual aid request, D.C. fire officials said. However, a D.C. ambulance became available at 1:42 a.m., and D.C. fire said the D.C. ambulance reached the scene at 1:55 a.m. – before a Prince George’s County ambulance got there.

The ambulance that did transport Ford was from D.C., not Maryland, according to D.C. fire. The ambulance from Prince George’s County was not used and returned to Maryland.

D.C. fire also cited a high volume of calls at the time as well as a high number of personnel out sick as the reason why an ambulance wasn’t available before 1:42 a.m.

Furthermore, what Ford’s family believes was a bill for $700 was a notice from the billing contractor requesting insurance information and permission to file an insurance claim, according to D.C. fire.

D.C. Fire and EMS does not generally comment on specific patient cases due to privacy issues, officials said, but they commented Thursday due to “inaccurate” information in newspapers, broadcasts and on social media.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Ted

    So the press release clears up some questions, but…

    A a critical patient had no transporting EMS unit dispatched for 16 minutes. Great that BLS & ALS first response gave him the pre-hopsital medical care – but he needed a hospital – badly!

    Why is it OK to not call PG for mutual aid for so long, getthem on the road!

    Thanks for the facts LRB – your facts indicate you have a very dangerous problem with your EMS system – no transporting units available!

  • watchdogdc

    Lets take a look at the root of the problem surrounding this incident. The department has always known that new years eve is a day when a large number of the departments members were going to take off. For the past 26 years that I have been on the job the department several weeks prior to the Christmas and New Years holidays did a staffing assesment to determine the needs of the agency on specific days known to be days members would take off by whatever means. By doing this the agency has been able to ensure staffing of the onduty units. This year that planning never took place. Thats one of the problems. The other part of the problem is the Fire Chief’s failure to fill vacancies within the agency putting the agency in a staffing crisis in an effort to force a shift change which has been his underlying agenda all along. Currently there are about 200 vacancies in the department that are fully funded positions within the departments budget that by the way was under spent last year and the Chief turned money back in. The Chief is attempting to create such a stffing crisis that the citizens will get in an uproar about th crisis and the council will be forced to take some sort of action. The fact of the matter is the actions of the Chief are creating a staffing crisis and that crisis is jepordizing the safety of the citizens just as it did on New Years Eve. Take those 200 existing vacancies and put those bodies in the fire stations like they should be and the daily staffing picture looks different just like it would have on New Years Night. The real citizen outcry should be calling out the Mayor, Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and the City Council as a whole demanding the actions currently taking place by the Fire Chief Stop immidiately so nobody else has to ose their loved one due to the Chief pushing an agenda that jepordizes public safety. The Mayor,Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and the City Council as a whole should be investigated by the United States attorney’s office for being criminal negligent in the death of the poor soul that lost his life due to the Fire Chief’s and the Councils daily staffing rules and games.

  • Dat Truck Dude

    C’mon Kenneth. News about inappropriate behavior towards the cadets have been circulating for a while. I’m pro cadet program. Washington, DC doesn’t have Volleys to train aspiring firefighters and there are plenty of OIC’s and chiefs that came through the program. But this is not a “race” thing. This is a human decency thing. The Chief cannot give his opinion about sexual misconduct if he has a “cloud” over his head about similar allegations pertaining to him. The PIO office is a PR firm that only serves the Fire Chief. Other PIO’s run circles around these guys.

  • 2Cents

    The cadet program would be great and more supported if it was fair, and by fair I am talking about a cadet class to represent the demographics of Washington D.C. not hand picked, which it does not. Further more, hold them to the same standards of our recruit classes (i.e. discipline, training, rules, and conduct)because they are not.

    O and by the way, does nobody realize this group of corrupted city individuals is trying to cover up a serious offense, made by two individuals that were previously fired by the department.

    That is all.

  • WurkSmarterNotDumer

    If mutual aid can be called once in a while, and save the cost of 200 positions, seems like a no brainer.