Family Wants D.C. Firefighters Who Did Not Help Dying Man Fired

""It is extremely painful to think that our dad could still be with us," said son

By Mark Segraves and Mila Mimica
|  Thursday, Feb 6, 2014  |  Updated 11:29 PM EDT
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Retired Lt. May be Disciplined After Death Near Station

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Family Calls for Change in DC Fire Dept

The family of Medric Mills, a man who died near a DC Fire station and was denied assistance, called for change within the department Thursday evening. News4's Erika Gonzalez reports.

Family Wants Firefighters Who Did Not Help Dying Man Fired

The family of the man who collapsed and died across the street from a city fire station held a news conference Thursday about the incident. They said the firefighters and EMS workers who did not help should be fired. News 4's Mark Segraves reports.
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The family of a man who died of a heart attack outside a D.C. fire station after a rookie firefighter refused to help is calling for the termination of all fire department employees involved.

"It is extremely painful to think that our dad could still be with us if he was given proper medical care. He was in clear medical distress... but when an emergency happened at their doorstep, they did nothing," Medric Mills' son, Medric Mills III, said.

Relatives say the elder Mills, 77, was going to a computer store with his daughter when he went into cardiac arrest last month in a shopping center parking lot. Someone called 911, but right across the street was Engine 26.

Mills' family says several people went across the street to the station to ask a firefighter for help.

"I ran to the curb and I was like, 'Please can you help my father. Please, please, please,'" said his daughter, Maria Mills. "And I said, 'Are you just going to stand there and do nothing and let my dad die?'"

The firefighter, a rookie, said he had to check with his lieutenant, Kellene Davis. When he returned, he said he was told he could not respond.

During a press conference Thursday morning, the family called for the naming and firing for all involved in Mills' death. They say it's also time for the District to overturn a law that essentially protects public officials legally if they don't provide proper medical care.

"There must be accountability," Mills' son said. "When D.C. residents suffer emergencies right in front of the fire station and are not helped, there must be reform."

While there's been no word on what disciplinary actions those involved may face, D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe confirmed Wednesday that Davis would be held accountable for her actions:

"There is nothing in our protocol that would prevent an employee from rendering aid to a person who needs [it]," Ellerbe told News4's Mark Segraves in a rare one-on-one interview. "Everyone who puts on the uniform takes an oath and is required to respond when called."

Mayor Vincent Gray called the incident an "outrage" and an "absurdity." 

D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells revealed earlier this week a 911 dispatcher sent the wrong station (Rhode Island Street NW instead of Rhode Island Street NE) to respond to Mills' emergency.

Ellerbe confirmed that Davis, who had initially been placed on desk duty, has applied for retirement.

"There's a lot of accountability that is still out there regarding this incident and we are going to take a very hard look at it and a very fair look at what happened, then deal with it," Ellerbe said. "Nobody is going to run away from this, and people will be held accountable."

As for the next step, Ellerbe said a trial board will soon be impaneled and he will "let the chips fall where they may." The board will make recommendations regarding disciplining Davis.

When asked if someone failed that day, Ellerbe mulled over the question silently, and then said, "Until the investigation is over, I can't comment."

Ellerbe said he knew Mills personally.

"Mr. Mills and I belong to the same fraternal organization where he was a leader," Ellerbe said. "I also know him [from D.C. government] and as a friendly face I talked to at the Department of Parks and Recreation and at lunch.... I knew him fairly well. I'm debating [attending his funeral] for a couple reasons. I want to pay my respects and offer my condolences again, but I don't want to turn the funeral into a circus."

Mills' death is the just the latest in a string of incidents the fire department has faced in recent months.

A woman contacted News4 last week, claiming her son died four years ago outside a fire station waiting for help, while an EMT on duty refused to treat him. The News4 I-Team learned some D.C. firehouses were understaffed during last year's shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. Last April, Ellerbe admitted only 58 of the department's 111 ambulances were in service. Since then, Ellerbe has testified that 30 new vehicles were put into service last year.

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