Fire Department Report Silent on Mechanical Issues
Below is Deputy Mayor Paul Quander's report on what happened two weeks ago when no D.C. ambulances could be found to transport an injured police officer to the hospital. Most of the contents of the report, which say that three ambulance units were improperly out of service, were leaked earlier this week. Quander's report says seven fire department employees—the crews of the three ambulances and emergency liaison officer who "failed to properly monitor the units" that day—have been referred for appropriate personnel action.
Union officials have problems with the report. Ed Smith, head of the firefighters union, says his guys are being scapegoated for public relations reasons and that Quander did not interview the firefighters he's directed be punished, instead relying only on their written reports. "How can you do an investigation without interviewing people?" says Smith.
Also missing? Any discussion on whether or not it's a problem that 10 percent of city's ambulance fleet was out of service for mechanical issues when the police officer needed help. Quander's report says two ambulances "failed to start," one had problems with its lights, and another was out of service because of "oil-filter change, preventative maintenance and brakes."
Quander's report makes no determination on whether the fact that so many ambulances are out of service at once for mechanical issues is a problem that someone should be punished for. (Keep in mind that the department has 39 ambulance units on duty at any one time, out of a fleet more than 100.) Instead, he notes that since the incident two weeks ago, the department now has four reserve ambulance stocked and ready to replace any broken ambulances that go out of service for more than 30 minutes. Again, there's no discussion in the report as to why such a policy wasn't in place to begin with, even though the department's fleet problems are long-standing and well-documented. At a news conference two weeks ago, Quander insisted that putting fully stocked ambulances on ready reserve was a new policy that "just [happened] to coincide" with the incident involving the injured police officer.
The mayor's spokesman says the report "speaks for itself."
Read it here:
Photo by Darrow Montgomery