WASHINGTON (WJLA) - As President Obama travels to and from the White House in his motorcade, the number one concern is keeping him safe. A critical constant is a DC Fire and EMS ambulance, typically Medic 1, that trails behind in the event of a medical emergency.
But on August 8, as the President and First Lady were leaving the White House to celebrate Mr. Obama’s 52nd birthday at the restaurant Rasika in West End, Medic 1 ran out of gas.
Fire officials confirm that the vehicle was towed away and is now being repaired off-site. Fire officials say that as per policy, the crew should have but did not fill up the tank that day. Sources say the bigger issue is that the vehicle’s fuel gauge had been broken for months and not been repaired.
STATter911 UPDATED: DC Medic unit protecting President runs out of gas. Also, a scratch your head type PIO statement on staffing shortages.
For months, D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells has been critical of the fire department for not quickly addressing a fleet in despair. He says all District residents, including those in the White House, deserve better:
"This is just an example that highlights the fact that we are not where we need to be."
According to the official Press Pool report, the motorcade left the White House around 6:40 p.m. A fire department spokesperson says another ambulance, Medic 7, was dispatched and arrived at the White House at approximately 6:59 p.m. – nearly 20 minutes later.
But by then, the motorcade was long gone as the restaurant is only a couple of miles away.
What we also know according to a video is that when the motorcade left Rasika, Medic 7 was parked off to the left. Multiple sources familiar with protocol say since Medic 7 was not in the motorcade, it likely had not gone through a security sweep and therefore could not have been used by the president anyway if something had happened.
There are plenty of D.C. residents who can't believe that something as simple as not fueling up could potentially jeopardize the First Family’s safety.