90-Year-Old Waits 30 Minutes for D.C. Ambulance

A dispatch crew in charge the day an ambulance was sent to the wrong quadrant of Washington, D.C. rerouted a crew Tuesday, leaving a 90-year-old woman waiting for 30 minutes, News4 has learned.

Paramedics arrived to the woman's D Street SE home at 2:24 p.m. and requested an ambulance. Just before 3 p.m., paramedics told the 911 dispatcher an ambulance had not yet arrived.

Several minutes later, the paramedics made the decision take the woman to a local hospital in a fire truck.

"Patient is unconscious at this time. We're loading her in the engine and taking her to the hospital," a paramedic is heard in the phone call.

Another paramedic is heard on the call saying, "There were no ambulances available so she's in the back of the fire engine on the way to the hospital. We're five minutes out so if we could get a stretcher outside."

Tim Wilson with D.C. Fire and EMS said the ambulance that was "dispatched to the scene may have been erroneously rerouted ... the error appears to have caused a significant delay."

Wednesday, Wilson released a new statement referencing the incident:

Wilson added the cause of the error is under review.

Wilson said the same dispatch crew that routed an ambulance to northwest Washington instead of northeast several months ago was handling Tuesday's call.

In the previous case, well-known D.C. resident Medric Mills was refused treatment by a fire lieutenant just outside a firehouse and later died. 

The woman is expected to be OK, though her neighbors are shaken up about the incident.

"It's disgraceful this happened," Harriet Taylor said. She said she would call one of her daughters if an ambulance failed to arrive to help her.

Muriel Bowser, the Democratic candidate for D.C. mayor, told News4 that she is outraged at another failed response by the fire department.

"It's more than just leadership, we really have to figure out fire response and medical response, and make sure that our department is organized in such a way that we're getting the maximum response," Bowser said Wednesday.

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