Records Contradict City Account of DC Toddler's Death

 

 
 
 

| Tuesday, March 9, 2010


ROBY CHAVEZ

Reprinted with Permission

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The controversy surrounding the death of 2-year-old Stephanie Stephens continues. Her parents made two 911 calls to get her help, but ambulance medics diagnosed her against D.C. Fire protocol and refused to transport her. Her parents called 911 a second time eight hours later, and she was transported but later died.



The two ambulance medics who allegedly refused to transport the toddler are at the center of a discipline investigation. However, FOX 5 has learned that others in a supervisory position on a fire truck may have arrived first, but never went inside the Southern Avenue home. Instead, they left the scene and were put back into service.



On Friday, Mayor Adrien Fenty was clear that two medics arrived first. As a result, they have been taken off the street and can no longer have contact with patients.



The internal documents obtained exclusively by FOX 5 seem to contradict the city's account. They are the automated time stamps generated by a computer showing the history of the fire units.



The documents clearly show Engine 33 with a paramedic on board arrives first at 4:56:45 a.m. on February 10, 2010. Medic 33 arrived at the Southern Avenue address at 4:58:28 a.m., nearly two minutes later, but they were the only ones to go inside.



So the question is, why didn't the higher ranking paramedic on engine 33-- who arrived first-- make the evaluation on the little girl, and if he was there, why did he not intervene when medics decided not to transport the child? More importantly, why is the engine 33 paramedic still on the job?



D.C. Fire and EMS would not answer those questions. A spokesman disputes their own records, maintaining that the ambulance was first to the scene.

"The case is still under review. As we previously reported, the medic unit arrived and had initial patient contact," said D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Pete Piringer.



Privately, medics say it's a systematic problem.



For the first time on Monday, the hospital where Stephanie died spoke out in a letter to the editor in the Washington Post. Joseph Wright, the Senior Vice President of Children's National Medical Center wrote a scathing letter about EMS saying, "a death was inevitable." Wright also calls the decision not to transport as "inexcusable."



Wright, who is also the EMS Medical Director, goes on to say it was only a matter of time before a pediatric Rosenbaum case surfaced.

Wright was referring to the death of NY Times journalist David Rosenbaum two years ago.



The city settled a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed over EMS missteps and promised operational reforms.



We should point out that while the city disputes the time stamps on these documents, they are the official record used when disciplining firefighters.




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Related Topics: Leadership and Professionalism, Legal and Ethical, Operations and Protcols

 
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