A D.C. ambulance automatically shut itself down while transporting a patient Wednesday. The patient, shot by police, later died. News4's Mark Segraves found out several D.C. ambulances have a system that allows them to automatically power down.
News4 uncovered the District has dozens of the same model ambulance that broke down while transporting a gunshot victim Wednesday.
The ambulance broke down along Interstate 295 while paramedics were performing CPR.
A second ambulance was called, and the victim -- a suspect in a carjacking -- was transferred to a working vehicle within five to seven minutes, Fire and EMS officials said.
Nathaniel McRae, 34, was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The delay did not contribute to McRae's death, according to D.C. Fire and EMS Deputy Chief John Donnelly.
"This patient was gravely wounded from the beginning," Donnelly said. "We don’t believe and we’ve been told it didn’t affect the outcome, but again, it’s not a situation we strive for."
McRae was shot by police when he got out of a vehicle on Barnaby Street SE. A police officer also was injured during that incident but is expected to be OK.
The ambulance that broke down was a new vehicle with an automated shut-down mechanism that that gives the driver a series of warnings to turn off the engine after multiple hours of continued use.
In Wednesday's case, Donnelly told News4 the first two warnings either didn't go off or the driver missed them.
The scope of the ambulance's possible malfunction is far-reaching, as the city has been operating dozens of the same model vehicle since 2010 and has 13 more vehicles on order.
"We have 32 other ambulances with this system," Donnelly said. "We haven't had any problems that I'm aware of and I'm not aware of any other problems across the country."
The ambulance vehicle in question is currently being examined by D.C. Police and will later return to the fire department's maintenance yard.
“It is too early to know what happened," Donnelly said. "We have been in contact with district authorities and the local dealer and are cooperating with the investigation, but it is too early to speculate on what happened."
D.C. Fire and EMS has come under fire in recent months over ambulance and staffiing issues.