Mechanical Failure Caused D.C. Ambulance Breakdown

By Mark Segraves
|  Friday, Jun 7, 2013  |  Updated 7:16 PM EDT
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A transport incident in May is now linked to a fuel filter problem in DC ambulances, and now 32 will undergo repairs. News4's Derrick Ward has more on how it will impact emergency response in the District.

Derrick Ward

A transport incident in May is now linked to a fuel filter problem in DC ambulances, and now 32 will undergo repairs. News4's Derrick Ward has more on how it will impact emergency response in the District.

Photos and Videos

D.C. Ambulance Shuts Down During Emergency

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.
More Photos and Videos

D.C. Fire and EMS says the breakdown of an ambulance transporting a gunshot victim last month was caused by a mechanical failure.

Tests on the vehicle revealed that a faulty fuel cooler screen malfunctioned, causing the ambulance to  automatically shut down along Interstate 295 on May 30. A second ambulance was called, and the victim -- Nathaniel McRae, 34, -- was transferred to a working vehicle within five to seven minutes, Fire and EMS officials said.

"My understanding is the engine was powering down, it didn't shut down," D.C. Fire Deputy Chief John Donnelly said. "The driver followed all of the procedures, he did the exact right thing to do with the warning system."

McRae, a suspect in a carjacking, 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.

The city is now having the filters removed from all of their ambulances. The work will be done in phases and will not affect service.

Engineers with Navistar International, the ambulance's manufacturer, have agreed to repair, and pay for, the District's 32 ambulances with the faulty filters.

DCFEMS says the filter is not a part of the EPA required regeneration system, so permission from the EPA is not needed to remove the filters.

D.C. Fire and EMS has come under fire in recent months over ambulance and staffiing issues.

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