• DC Fire Lieutenant Charged With Incompetence After Failing To Help Choking Baby

    A lieutenant in the District of Columbia fire department is in hot water after a report released by the mayor’s office has charged him with neglect of duty.

    The lieutenant, who had his name redacted from the report, is charged with neglect of duty after he failed to respond to a call from a parent whose child was choking on a grape, according to the report.

    The report claims that the lieutenant should have responded to the call, even though an error in the computer system used by the agency didn’t show his location to dispatchers. The lieutenant was just two blocks from the scene of the choking and didn’t tell dispatchers.

    After the lieutenant failed to respond to the distress call, firefighters who were more than a mile away at the time of the call were forced help, though by the time they arrived on scene, around 11 minutes after the first 911 call, it was too late. The child died six days later.

    Shortly after the incident, one of the firefighters dispatched to help the child called the lieutenant to figure out why he didn’t respond to the nearby call, and the lieutenant simply shrugged off the criticism.

    According to the report, the lieutenant called the Fire Liaison Officer after receiving the angry call to find out the status of the firetruck and said of the angry firefighter, “The wagon driver called up here complaining about it, I’m like alright man, I don’t put out the calls.”

    Following an internal review, the lieutenant was found in violation of fire department policies regarding neglect, incompetence and unreasonable failure to give assistance to the public. The lieutenant will face a hearing before a department trial board, though he currently remains on active duty.

    “My top priority is the safety and well-being of our residents,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement. In the statement she outlined reforms being put in place to ensure an incident like this one does not happen again.

    The installation of new leadership is at the top of that list of reforms. In May, just a few weeks into the investigation, the director of D.C.’s 911 call center resigned after numerous failings at the agency.

    In January of 2014, a man died across the street from a fire station after firefighters in the station ignored calls for help. Then in January of this year, a woman died on a Metro train after the train stopped in a tunnel and filled with smoke.

    Firefighters who responded to the emergency couldn’t communicate with each other because the new digital radios they were using wouldn’t work in the tunnel.

    The fire department implemented several patches to technology used to track the location of fire trucks, fire trucks will be required to announce themselves if they are closer to a call location than the fire truck dispatched to the call and more emergency vehicles will be put into service.(RELATED: DC Fire Department Still Has No Preventative Maintenance Program)

    “Mayor Bowser tasked [Fire and Emergency Medical Services] to get to the bottom of what happened on March 13th and fix our processes so that it never happens again,” Fire Chief Gregory Dean said in a statement. “We are working around the clock to ensure our FEMS emergency response services work for the District of Columbia and our residents.”

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