A D.C. fire lieutenant whose company reportedly ignored pleas to help a man dying from a massive heart attack across the street from their Northeast station blamed the lack of response on a subordinate, who she said failed to tell her the location of the emergency.
The lieutenant, identified as Kellene L. Davis in a special report filed to D.C. fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe and obtained by The Washington Times, said she was told by a firefighter on duty Saturday that “someone had slipped and fallen across the street.” Lt. Davis, a 28-year veteran of the department, said in the report that she asked the firefighter for an address but was never given the information.
The report comes amid charges that a 77-year-old man died after city firefighters turned his family away from Engine 26 in Northeast where they were seeking help. WTTG-TV (Channel 5) first reported that Cecil Mills collapsed in a strip mall across the street from the fire station. His daughter, Marie, told the news station that she sought help from firefighters at the station across the street but was told to call 911.
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Wednesday said he was “outraged” when he heard the allegation and the city was investigating the incident.
“For those who fail to respond as they should, they will be held accountable — period,” he said. “Common sense and common decency would have said you go to someone whose in distress and you do what’s necessary to support that person.”
Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Paul A. Quander Jr. said an investigation is underway to determine why no one provided aid.
“This is just an event that is unacceptable,” Mr. Quander said. “I’ve asked that we do take a complete look at what transpired.”
Lt. Davis‘ report, dated Sunday, is short on specific details about the incident, including basic information such as the time of day it took place and where she was when it was brought to her attention.
The report says she asked a firefighter to get her an address and told him she would be right there. But when he did not return, the report says, she went looking for him and found him lying in a bed in the bunk room.
The report says the lieutenant confronted the firefighter, who told her that dispatchers had initially sent rescue workers to the wrong address but that they had since sent crews to the correct address.
She wrote that she “proceeded outside of quarters to investigate” and found police, fire and medical crews on the scene.
The lieutenant said she again confronted the firefighter and was told that he asked another firefighter, a probationary employee in his first year on the job, to relay the address to her. The probationary firefighter said that was false, Lt. Davis wrote. She concluded that the other firefighter had “failed to follow a verbal order and provided a false statement.”
As part of the investigation, the lieutenant and firefighter were transferred to desk duty, fire spokesman Tim Wilson said. Mr. Wilson said he had not seen the report and could not speak to its authenticity, but he confirmed that Lt. Davis had submitted an account Sunday. He also said the third probationary firefighter was transferred to another fire station.