ACLU Asks D.C. Fire Chief for Explanation of Paramedic’s Reassignment

Botwin was removed from patient contact after writing city council about staffing shortage


 
 

PAUL WAGNER, MyFoxDC | | Friday, September 13, 2013


VIDEOS

Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Paramedic Disciplined Over Letter to City Council

Paramedic Botwin was taken off the streets despite medic shortage.
more >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Paramedic Writes of “Dire Situation” in EMS

Medic sends letter council after baby’s death.
more >





WASHINGTON, DC (MyFOXDC) - The paramedic who wrote a letter to the D.C. City Council warning of a "dire situation" in the District has now been off the street for a week--sitting in an office doing nothing.

JEMS: D.C. Paramedic Disciplined Over Letter to City Council

Jon has not been questioned or even told what charges he might be facing--circumstances the American Civil Liberties Union sees as nothing short of retaliation.

On Thursday the ACLU sent a letter to Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe asking for an explanation and pointing out the paramedic had a clear right to communicate his concerns to the council under the whistle blower protection act and the first amendment.

The fire department says it placed Botwin on “administrative duties” after "very serious concerns" were raised about the information he disclosed. A claim the ACLU says the facts do not support.

When Jon Botwin sat down to write the city council and tell the members about his efforts to save the life of a little girl he did not include any identifying information.

Despite that, D.C. Fire and EMS put out a news release saying the privacy officer had concerns HIPAA rules had been violated and Botwin was ordered off his engine and told to report to headquarters.

Art Spitzer with the ACLU has read Botwin’s letter and sees no violation at all.

"All he said was a five month old baby had died, I can't see how that possibly violates patient privacy", said Spitzer in an interview Thursday.

In his letter to the chief, Spitzer also wonders why the investigation has even gone on this long.

"This is a classic case in the D.C. Fire Department, I have been litigating cases against the D.C. Fire Department since 1980 and I have seen this kind of thing repeatedly where the Fire Chief wants to let people know who's the boss around here," said Spitzer.

As FOX 5 has reported, Botwin’s letter also pointed out less than half the paramedic positions were staffed the day the little girl went into cardiac arrest. Including the two units stationed closest to the girls apartment.

Botwin also told the council citizens are in danger, the remaining paramedics are burning out and it's only getting worse.

He spoke out on the FOX 5 ten o'clock news last Friday.

"If you call 911 and you want or need an ALS provider the question is do you want it coming from over here, farther away or the one that is supposed to be there and if people knew how many times that the city is left with less than half the number of paramedics, less than half the paramedics we are supposed to have, even though that number doesn't come close to what similar cities with similar size have, it's ridiculous, people's lives are hurting every single day, you just don't hear about it or it isn't your family yet," Botwin said in a live interview with Anchor Maureen Umeh.

Jon Botwin is not the first firefighter to be taken off the street for speaking out.

Robert Alvarado was demoted after he gave an interview to FOX 5 and union president Ed Smith was transferred after he was critical of the chief.

In a request for comment, D.C. Fire and EMS released this statement.

“The Department has received a letter of inquiry from the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation's Capital regarding the detail of Paramedic Jon Botwin.

The Department will not provide comment or respond to any inquiries until the investigation is complete.”
 

Mobile Category: 
News




D.C. Paramedic Disciplined Over Letter to City Council



D.C. Paramedic Writes of “Dire Situation” in EMS


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, legal issues, DCFEMS, DCFD

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Mechanical CPR is Producing Resuscitation Results Beyond Expectations

Discover why clinical studies are finding mechanical CPR just as effective as optimally-performed CPR.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

New Technology Helps Missouri Ambulances

Strategic GPS tracking helps in Springfield.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Profile: Hospital Wing Air Ambulance

Take a look inside this Memphis service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Monitors for Wyoming EMS

Grant helps Torrington EMS get new equipment.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

London Medics Increasingly Attacked

One medic describes her violent confrontation.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Violence, Arson in Ferguson

Crowds in Ferguson and elsewhere react to decision.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

California Bus Rollover

One killed and dozens injured.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Buffalo Residents Dig Out and Prepare for Flooding

Flooding expected as heavy snow melts.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >