City Desk

Report: Five Firefighters Should Be Disciplined for Death of Medric Mills

The mayor's office has released a damning report on the findings of its investigation into the January death of Medric Mills across the street from a fire station. The document calls for disciplinary action against five firefighters and four emergency dispatchers after the firefighters failed to respond to the incident and dispatchers initially sent emergency personnel to the wrong address.

Mills collapsed Jan. 25 across the street from a fire station on Rhode Island Avenue NE while shopping with his adult daughter and later died at Washington Hospital Center. Despite pleas for help and awareness that a medical emergency was occurring, none of the nearby Engine 26 fire fighters at the station provided medical assistance.

According to the report, a person entered the station and said there was a medical emergency outside, and the probationary firefighter manning the watch desk subsequently called on the station's PA system for the lieutenant. The officer then made a second announcement a minute or two later, calling for the lieutenant again, this time saying it was urgent. The lieutenant did not respond to either request, according to the report.

Three other firefighters in the station heard the announcement, and one of them asked the probationary officer what was going on. That firefighter then went to a bunk room to tell the lieutenant that a man across the street needed help and asked the lieutenant if she "was going to put them on the run." She told the firefighter to get the exact address, but for some reason, the firefighter never returned; instead, according to the report, he gathered some books from his car and went to his bunk room to study.

The lieutenant went to look for the firefighter and when she found him lying in bed, he said dispatchers—who had responded to a 911 call—initially sent the engine to the wrong address, but said he "thought it was alright" since they had since sent another unit to the correct address. (The first group dispatched was sent to 1309 Rhode Island NW, instead of 1309 Rhode Island NE.)  The lieutenant says she then went outside to observe the situation and saw a number of emergency personnel already on the scene.  She did not inform her supervisor of the incident, according to the report.

About 10 minutes passed between the first 911 call and the arrival of the first fire truck on the scene, according to the report. A minute later, an ambulance on a separate call was flagged down to help. It took about 23 minutes from the time the first call was made to the time Mills was transported to Washington Hospital Center.

The District also released today the original 911 call made by a man, in which Mills' daughter can be heard distressed in the background yelling that her father is not breathing, and to "please come on...the fire department is across the street."

The report was supervised by deputy mayor for public safety Paul Quander Jr., and suggests disciplinary action ranging from reprimand to removal. Its recommendations also include a review of dispatching protocol, additional training for dispatchers, and a memo instructing fire department officials to assist the public whenever possible, even if they are not dispatched to the scene.

Read the full report below:

Photo courtesy of The Cochran Firm

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  • Typical DC BS

    Union members at their finest.

  • Retired Cop 70

    What a crock! I ask you this explain why is a rookie fire fighter studying for a promotion exam? Don't pass the buck and find everyone guilty except the Lt. who I believe was allowed to retire. The Lt should be fired period. Who is Paul Quander and who put him in office? I don't recall voting him in.

  • Social Media Violator

    Ellerbe has deftly created a culture of compliance, not a culture of engagement. He has removed symbols of pride. He has punished initiative. He has tolerated incompetence, and promoted mediocrity. He has hired only non-competitive personnel. He has retaliated against whistleblowers.

    The cadet called for his superior and told senior members. The members told their lieutenant. The lieutenant dropped the ball.

    5 people 'knew of an emergency' -- 400 people 'know of' 400 emergencies in DC every day, but are not expected to respond unless they are dispatched. When they have a third party report of an emergency AND another unit is dispatched, they DO NOT SELF DISPATCH. In Ellerbe's department, they can reasonably be expected to be punished for doing so.