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UPDATED – DC Mayor Gray refuses to answer reporter’s questions about cover-up in Quander report

DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

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UPDATE

Instead of putting the details out for all to see last week, DC Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Paul Quander is forced to answer more questions about the death of Cecil Mills, a week after issuing his report about the tragic incident. As I pointed out last Sunday, Quander’s report not only failed to explain what the probationary firefighter who was the first contact at the firehouse failed to do, the document never addressed the training of this graduate from the high school cadet program. My theory was then and is now that Quander omitted these items to avoid further scrutiny of Chief Ellerbe and the program that is the priority initiative of Ellerbe’s administration.

The problem for Quander is that an internal affairs report leaked out on Thursday highlighted the omitted items and includes the fact that the probie, Remy Jones, said he did not have the skills to handle a walk in emergency at the firehouse. Despite that, Quander told Peter Hermann and Amy Brittain of The Washington Post Friday that Jones was properly trained:

The deputy mayor, Paul A. Quander Jr., said the rookie — along with others in the station that day — should have known he could have responded. “He may have been under extreme pressure when things were happening,” Quander said.

Quander said that if the cadet, 19-year-old Remy Jones, was, indeed, ignorant about what was expected of him, it means the lieutenant in charge of the firehouse failed her duties as well. He said cadets are on probation for 18 months because they need be able to handle life-and-death emergencies “without thinking, but knowing what to do when the pressure comes.”

The Washington Post previously reported that Jones, who graduated in November with his cadet class, ran into problems at the training academy. Two supervisors documented his poor attitude and disrespect for fellow cadets and the chain of command, according to internal reports obtained by The Post.

EARLIER

Kenneth Ellerbe, Paul Quander and Vincent Gray continue to show their competency in crisis management is about equal to the skills the probie in the center of the Mills case showed in following procedures when someone came to the firehouse asking for help. At least the probie’s excuse may be he’s new to the job and had poor training.

The fire chief, deputy mayor and mayor have now stretched one bad incident for the DC Fire and EMS Department into more than a month of news coverage with no end in sight. Banking on Paul Quander’s report released last Friday to put an end to this never ending news cycle on the death of Cecil Mills, we find one week later TV reporter Paul Wagner going all Charlie LeDuff like on Mayor Vincent Gray about the perception of a cover-up.

DC Wagner ambushes mayor

This trio always seem to be under the impression that the best way to manage bad news is to let it leak out slowly in dribs and drabs to maximize news coverage. Even when they promise a complete report into what has become an incident receiving international coverage they leave important stuff out.

We pointed out on Sunday some of what was missing in the Quander report and Wagner found out yesterday (Thursday) the details of what the deputy mayor didn’t think the public should know. Even though Paul Quander tells Wagner otherwise, the missing material found in an internal affairs report is significant and speaks to the heart of the matter.

Quander can spin it any way he wants, the press secretary can continue to run interference and the mayor can run away, but until they learn and apply the basics of reputation management this one will not go quietly into the night.

Paul Wagner, WTTG-TV/Fox 5:

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray refused to answer any questions Friday about the investigation into the death of Cecil Mills and why key facts about the case were left out of a public report.

He instead steered all questions to the deputy mayor who wrote it.

As FOX 5 first reported Thursday, the public report released last week does not include an admission by a rookie firefighter that he was afraid he would lose his job if he ran to help Mills.

Mayor Gray wanted nothing to do with reporters’ questions about the internal affairs report. At a public event inside the Wilson Building, the mayor refused to discuss it and steered all questions to the deputy mayor for public safety.

In an interview Friday, Paul Quander defended the report released to the public, telling FOX 5 in an interview it was not “sugar coated.”

Quander says the fact the rookie claimed he hadn’t been trained and was afraid to leave his post for fear of losing his job is not crucial to the fact no one in that firehouse went to help Mills when he collapsed across the street.

But first, we’ll start with my attempt to get answers from the mayor.

As we first told you Thursday night, the rookie firefighter, Remy Jones, told internal affairs investigators he didn’t know what to do when people came knocking at the firehouse door looking for help.

He also said he thought he could only ring the emergency bells at night, that he wanted to run to help Mills, but was afraid of leaving his truck a man short.

The internal affairs report also says the lieutenant in charge that day lied in her initial statement, and that 911 dispatchers were told Truck 15, in that same firehouse, was available to go on the call, but was never dispatched.

About the rookie, Quander said, “He is an employee and he has a duty station and you don’t leave your duty station. So he called for help and when help finally came and when he said can we go over and assist, he was told essentially we have to let the lieutenant know and that’s what they did.”

The deputy mayor also defended the rookies training.

“He received training,” said Quander. “He graduated from the academy, the same training as everyone else, and he responded in a way that may not have been perfect because he was supposed to have rung the bell. This was nothing that was sugar coated. I was thorough. I was meticulous.”

Quander says he did not include the fact the lieutenant lied in her initial statement because it was after the fact and not important enough to be included in the public report.

As to why Truck 15 wasn’t dispatched when it was right across the street, the deputy mayor says the dispatchers were looking for paramedic units to go to the scene to help Mills and the personnel assigned to the truck were only EMTs.

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  • Idiots in office

    If you screw up on probation, don’t you get fired? Isn’t that point of probation? What is the delay here?

  • miller

    dave u had been updating this all week.Is funny while u left out the updated from channel 7 about the PA fireman.Cadet fireman was a rookie u are told that you stick with your officer.That fireman from PA was told and the POS officer an went back to bed.

    • DStatter

      Fair enough. I didn’t see that until the next day. From a news value it didn’t forward the story that much that it was worth adding. Certainly not in the way Wagner and Amy Brittain did. If 7 had talked to Murphy or even shed some light on his actions, much the way the other two reports did with Jones, I would have posted the story late. But if you think me not running it has a greater meaning, so be it. I can’t argue that’s your impression. The living in PA angle means absolutely nothing to me and won’t until people who call 911 start telling them only send me the firemen who live in DC. I don’t want help from anyone who doesn’t. Your Zip Code has no bearing on how well you do the job,

    • michaelgove

      I, for one, would love to hear what you have to say. You’ve got to try to express yourself in semi-comprehensible English.

    • Pedro

      To me the issue he is the double standard. The Cadet, a district resident that is a product of the program that seems to be the only to get a job with DCFEMS, and the guy from PA are treated completely differently.

      Quander admits that the rookie did not know what to do. Instead of blaming him for not knowing things he should have known immediately upon entering the firehouse, he blames the Lt. While she is far from a decent officer, and is responsible for giving him his tests, it is still his responsibility to learn and know what to do. He should be sitting at the watch day studying all day. Had HE taken on the PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY to to so, he would have known exactly what to do.

      Still, Quander backs the rookie, saying that “he did what he was supposed to do” by notifying the Lt and absolves him from all other blame.

      On the other hand, Quander states that the guy from PA, after noticing that the LT was not responding to the rookie’s multiple calls, and not initially knowing that there was a walk in request for assistance, took it upon himself to assist the rookie in locating the Lt. After the rookie told him he needed the Lt because there was a walk in, he went to the Lt, notified her that there was an EMS call directly across the street, and requested that he assign the truck to the run, to witch the Lt told him not to assign the truck because they were not dispatched, and that they could not respond without an address.

      I am not saying that he did the “right” thing by then going to study after hearing OUS dispatch other units. Both he and the rookie should have both taken it upon themselves to walk across the street and assist. But to say that one “did what he was supposed to do” while saying that the other should have done more and deserves punishment seems to create a double standard.

      Also, I think it is important to note that a few things do get lost in most of the emotion surrounding this story.

      First, the reports seem to indicate that the rookie was notified that “someone (Mr Mills) slipped and fell”. It can be assumed that he relayed that same info to the PA guy. I imagine that they would have both reacted much differently had they been notified that Mr Mills was actually in cardiac arrest. While both are requests for assistance, a slip and fall is typically a BLS call and not considered a high priority, while everyone knows that minutes and even seconds can matter in cardiac arrest. This would not excuse, but would perhaps help explain why 2 firefighters did not want to risk disciplinary action and respond without the approval of their officer, which was denied.

      Which brings me to my second point. Lets say they had responded. In all likelihood we would never have heard anything about this incident. We also never would have heard that the rookie and PA guy, doing what they should have by walking across the street and assisting someone in trouble, were subsequently facing disciplinary actions for AWOL (because they left quarters without permission) and/or insubordination (because they left quarters against their officers orders to stay). While this may seem far fetched to many, these are the conditions we work under every day, where people get put on charges for the smallest of offenses and certain officers put people on charges for even the smallest action that seems to challenge their authority.

      And it has happened before. One officer was demoted for responding to a fire right around the corner with only part of his company present, despite the fact that he notified the chief, received permission from the chief, and put the fire out, rather than sitting by doing nothing.

      I have no doubt that the rookie and PA guy would be in the same boat had they done the “right” thing.

  • Fire21

    What’s truly scary is that for this total administration to stay in office, there must be support from the citizenry!! Think about that for a minute!!

  • totwtytr

    I’ve given up blogging about DC FEMS. Another month, another story about horrific or no EMS care for someone who was gravely ill.

    I don’t think that anything is going to change there until someone realizes that the FD can not run EMS. That will require a strong leader in City Hall and hiring someone who has a mandate from the Mayor and City Council to make changes.

    There is no “fixing” EMS in DC without blowing up the current system.

    Which means that there is likely no way to fix EMS.

    • hdeezy

      Brother there are may successful fire-based EMS services around the country. I am under the impression that these well run agencies far outweigh the poorly run ones.

      • Truth Hurts

        So because SOME FD-EMS systems are ok, THIS one needs to be allowed to continue to kill people?

        Get off it, brother. Shitburger isn’t going to send goons to your house for admitting the truth. Is he?

      • totwtytr

        There are some smaller departments that do good EMS because they realize that without EMS, they are going to be out of business. Bigger departments, Chicago, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Dallas, tend to treat EMS as a second class service they provide. They are also systems that do a lot of calls, so their volume far outweighs that of small and medium sized departments.

  • HOOKMAN

    Poor Remy…not only is the pathetic Lt. covering her ass by throwing the others under the bus, but apparently Remy learned quite alot from her….this kid is how old ????? and went through the same training as everyone else, but old Kenny on Kojo says he’s young and being new he had 4 other people with time on the job that would know what to do, but poor Remy needs to protect himself and if screwing his brother firefighters (which I’m sure he has no clue about) and doing what his daddy Kenny told him to do, then keep doing what your doing…because Remy gonna do what Remy gotta do…ya feel me slim…..I thought i could only ring the bells at night…its ok Remy…daddy Ken will hold your hand because your on his team….heck..my 8 year old knows what to do if something like this happens..call 911…even better…this link here is about a pre schooler who saved her dads life because when seconds mattered…this 3..yes 3 year old new what to do…
    http://m.wusa9.com/watercooler/article?a=5830139&f=261

    however…your a perfect example of the resistance your daddy talks about regarding him trying to change the culture of the department…hiring people like Remy should not bother anyone right Kenny…he’s probably a #1 draft pick in your mind, because you never chose this career path the same way as the majority of those who’ve prided themselves to be a DC Fireman….it wasn’t about prde, traditon or brotherhood right Kenny…thats right….because you haven’t a clue what those 3 are do you….and the resistance being met to your so called changing the culture of the fire department is to do the exact opposite that made this organization what it is…destroy destroy destroy…hire only DC residents, protect the incompetent people like Gray & Quander do for you and hold those that are the exact opposite of you to the letter of the law….if only a polygraph were attached to you when you speak…but the majority are well onto your plan…so for now….protect your prize hires and call them when seone dies to make sure their ok and let them know your daddy got yo back no matter what…its our turn now to act the way the last administration treated people..oh wait…my bad…everyone has a level playing field and some stars will shine…minus the Mills incident..your stars have certainly shined…so much they get to ne the first if not second story on the 6 o’clock news….you should be proud huh…your stars are now shining and your doing amazing things..your moving the department forward and doing things nobody has ever come close to doing…ordering new ambulances, fire engines to hiring 9 paramedics….did you here this folks…9 new paramedics…incredible…how did you do this…great work Kenny….oh wait…its everyday business to do things like this, but you turn it into a media frenzy where everyones to ooh & ahh at what your doing…well most of the competent people think your a pathetic individual occupying a position you were never qualified to be in…..for now…keep bottle feeding Remy and the others you sadly coddle and let the dedicated men and women do the job you could never do…because its a calling for most that requires skill, common sense, brotherhood, courage, bravery and a set….all of which you’ve never had….so go crawl back into your sack coat and do what you do best…becase it sures heck ain’t being a fireman…

  • Tammy

    did you hear LRB on the kojo show 2/28. guest caller asked about his history of retaliation…LRB lied as always and said “no proven cases of retaliation” what abpout his incident with the union president?????? LIAR!!!!

    http://thekojonnamdishow.org/audio-player?nid=24941

  • ukfbbuff

    Its apparent that any “Investigation” will only be a;

    “Whitewash”

    to “Protect” Ken Ellerbee.

    At this point in time, if a “True” Investigation were to be conducted, it would have to be done by someone like:

    Chief’s; J. Gordon Routely, Kelvin Cochran, Rosemary Cloud, Tim Sendlebeck or Alan Brunacini or others Outside of the DC City Council’s Control at the end of the day.