Audit: D.C. Fire Hasn't Implemented Reforms Promised Nine Years Ago - NBC4 Washington

Audit: D.C. Fire Hasn't Implemented Reforms Promised Nine Years Ago



    Report: Fire & EMS Reforms Not Fully Implemented

    News4's Mark Segraves looks at a D.C. auditor's report that found a majority of reforms designed to improve the fire department's emergency response have not been implemented. (Published Thursday, June 18, 2015)

    The D.C. Fire and EMS Department has not implemented reforms intended to improve emergency responses and patient care that District leaders agreed to more than nine years ago, a new audit of the agency found.

    The reforms were called for after New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum died after he was mugged not far from a firehouse in upper northwest D.C. 

    He died in part due to a botched response from emergency personnel. His family sued the District, but dropped the case after the mayor and the fire chief agreed to reforms to ensure the delays would never happen to another patient. 

    Thursday, the District's auditor released a report which found most of the promised reforms never happened.

    "Things are better than they were nine and a half years ago," said Marcus Rosenbaum, David's brother. "There’s still a long way to go."

    There have been many reports of delays in providing emergency services, including the case of Medric Cecil Mills, who died of a heart attack outside a D.C. firehouse in January, 2014 while firefighters inside refused to respond. 

    "It makes me cry," Marcus Rosenbaum said. "It's just horrible how could this have happened."

    The audit found that the fire department has not yet addressed issues including training, discipline and staffing -- or moving to an "all hazards agency" approach that has staff trained with the proper medical expertise.

    Policies have been in place but not enforced, said D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson. She said the blame for that spreads beyond the fire department to "the failure of our political leadership to come together."

    Acting fire chief Gregory Dean and Mayor Bowser promised improvements Thursday.

    "I have been on the job for six weeks and we are hard at work to implement the Task Force’s recommendations," Dean said. "Under the Bowser Administration, the Department has taken steps to enhance our EMS system."

    Today, Dean named a new assistant chief of medical services -- one of the promised reforms. However, that person is not a certified paramedic, which was one of the requirements for the job.

    "I have hope," Marcus Rosenbaum said. "All you can do is have hope, but I do."