Make sure you read Elissa Silverman’s excellent article on DC Fire and EMS Chief Dennis Rubin . It goes into depth on some of the things I mentioned in my initial blog down below.
The article captures what I have seen of Chief Rubin since his arrival. Like him or not, he is on the scene and in charge. He is also not afraid of cameras, reporters or the public.
What Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier expects to be to community policing, I see Dennis Rubin being to community firefighting. Just look at his move to provide a reading room for the children of Georgetown and using a viewing area of the damage at Eastern Market as a platform to give out fire safety tips.
Word from Atlanta is that Chief Rubin was all about customer service and was tough on those who racked up complaints.
The big picture still will be EMS. The fire side of DC Fire and EMS has been in charge of this for decades. This system had serious problems well before the death of David Rosenbaum. During my 22 year career at Channel 9 and, before that, almost 4 years at WTOP Radio, I’ve reported on problem after problem with the delivery of emergency medical services in the Nation’s Capital. It is easy to point to individual firefighters and EMS workers who messed up in the Rosenbaum case, and in so many other cases through the years. But isn’t the bigger picture that the real problem through these decades has been one of leadership?
It has been proven around the country and the world that you can have successful EMS systems as part of a fire department and also as a separate agency. But almost every expert I have talked to tells me that it won’t work under either setup if there isn’t the commitment, funding and leadership to ensure excellence. That has to come from the Mayor, the City Council, and the Fire Chief (or whoever else you have leading EMS).
Dennis Rubin has indicated he wants to be able to still call the agency he leads “DC Fire and EMS”. I am sure Chief Rubin doesn’t need me or anyone else to tell him, that to do that successfully, he will have to make some bold and innovative moves to show the way things have been run in the past are gone for good.