Anyone paying close attention to what happened during the last administration in DC should not be surprised that the DC Fire & EMS Department is still far from its goal of implementing a series of commitments made nine-years-ago after the death of David Rosenbaum. A report released yesterday (Thursday) by the DC Auditor finds less than half of the 36 recommendations have been implemented or partially implemented.
You may recall the team of Mayor Vincent Gray, Deputy Mayor Paul Quander and Chief Kenneth Ellerbe had an agenda that didn’t focus on providing the best fire and emergency medical services to the citizens of the District of Columbia. That team couldn’t even get the basics down of having adequate staffing and a fleet of emergency vehicles that could respond to 911 calls. They barely paid lip service to the efforts started with the formation of the task force by the previous administration. Instead of moving forward, those “leaders” took some giant steps backward with EMS.
I can’t wait to see the Washington Post’s editorial on this latest report. The editorial board’s Jo-Ann Armao enabled Gray, Quander and Ellerbe, blindly supporting their efforts that created the mess left for the new administration of Mayor Muriel Bowser and Chief Gregory Dean.
But, to be fair, the mayor and fire chief that created the task force, Adrian Fenty and Dennis Rubin, probably over-promised. There are recommendations in the task force report that required more than the political leadership was really willing to commit to making happen. It meant spending too much money and political capital than the DC Council and Fenty were willing to offer. This is particularly so with the recommendations on dealing with the civilian EMS work force.
DC Auditor Kathy Patterson, who previously served as a member of the DC City Council, seems to agree. Patterson says the failures aren’t just the fault of the DC Fire & EMS Department, but can also be blamed on the political leadership in the District of Columbia. Amen!
The D.C. Fire and EMS Department has not implemented reforms intended to improve emergency responses and patient care that District leaders agreed to more than nine years ago, a new audit of the agency found.
The reforms were called for after New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum died after he was mugged not far from a firehouse in upper northwest D.C.
He died in part due to a botched response from emergency personnel. His family sued the District, but dropped the case after the mayor and the fire chief agreed to reforms to ensure the delays would never happen to another patient.
Thursday, the District’s auditor released a report which found most of the promised reforms never happened.
“Things are better than they were nine and a half years ago,” said Marcus Rosenbaum, David’s brother. “There’s still a long way to go.
There have been many reports of delays in providing emergency services, including the case of Medric Cecil Mills, who died of a heart attack outside a D.C. firehouse in January, 2014 while firefighters inside refused to respond.
“It makes me cry,” Marcus Rosenbaum said. “It’s just horrible how could this have happened.”
The audit found that the fire department has not yet addressed issues including training, discipline and staffing — or moving to an “all hazards agency” approach that has staff trained with the proper medical expertise.
Policies have been in place but not enforced, said D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson. She said the blame for that spreads beyond the fire department to “the failure of our political leadership to come together.”
Acting fire chief Gregory Dean and Mayor Bowser promised improvements Thursday.
“I have been on the job for six weeks and we are hard at work to implement the Task Force’s recommendations,” Dean said. “Under the Bowser Administration, the Department has taken steps to enhance our EMS system.”
Today, Dean named a new assistant chief of medical services — one of the promised reforms. However, that person is not a certified paramedic, which was one of the requirements for the job.
“I have hope,” Marcus Rosenbaum said. “All you can do is have hope, but I do.”