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D.C. Council Discusses Fire and EMS Effectiveness

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WASHINGTON (MyFoxDC) - The D.C. Council held a hearing to discuss protocols within the department and the effectiveness of emergency responders.

This comes after the death of Cecil Mills, who passed away after having a heart attack across the street from a fire station in Northeast D.C. Emergency responders did not help him and were dispatched to the wrong address.

Councilmember Tommy Wells has been saying for weeks now once the internal investigation into the Mills case was complete, he wanted to hold a full hearing. That report came out Friday.

JEMS: Report Released on Death of Man Across from D.C. Firehouse

Mills’ family arrived at the Wilson building early, telling Wells, “It's time for change."

Several other families also testified at the hearing about relatives who have died because they believe D.C. Fire and EMS personnel did not properly do their job.

“My son was 35, no medical problems. He died from a heart attack that could have been saved,” said Julie Moses.

The case getting the most attention -- the death of Cecil Mills. His large family attended the hearing.

“It is impossible to understand how the ambulance that was finally dispatched was initially sent and actually went to the wrong quadrant of the city,” said the victim’s son, Cecil Mills III.

Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe was in attendance and testified as well.

"If we have employees, because of apathy or some other reason, failed to follow our rules and regulations and render care as required, we have responsibility to take action," said Ellerbe.

Councilmember Wells, who is chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said what has happened to each of these families must be fully investigate and it can't happen again.

Wells asked, “How is it possible that five different people failed to act when faced with an immediate need?”

Firefighters and EMS union representative also express embarrassment and regret for the Mills incident. But they pointed to a larger problem inside the department.

“We want to know ‘the why’ -- the question the public has demanded,” said Ed Smith of the District of Columbia Firefighters Association. “We want to make every effort possible to restore public confidence, which we hold so dearly.”

Last week, an internal report was released by the deputy mayor for public safety’s office, saying five people inside the firehouse the day Mills had a heart attack should have rushed to help him. But many worry that report won't lead to major changes to prevent another tragic outcome.

“It’s time for change,” said Mills III. “My family and I do not want anyone to feel the pain and loss we continue to feel.”

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander testified at the hearing, apologizing and answering questions about the internal report issued last Friday. He said Chief Ellerbe is not to blame here, but the fault should go to the five firefighters and four dispatchers who didn't follow basic procedures.
 



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