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By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
Topic - Paul A. Quander Jr.
The D.C. Council member with oversight of the fire department on Tuesday called for the resignations of the fire chief and the deputy mayor for public safety and justice, saying the administration has failed to present a plan to address chronic troubles with emergency response.
D.C. public safety officials will be asked Monday to account for several high-profile failures of the city's emergency response system, including the death of a man who collapsed across the street from a fire station and was refused aid.
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 D.C. fire department unveiled a new highly restrictive social media policy Monday that bans department employees from taking photos or video of fire or accident scenes while on the job and from transmitting such images to the media or other organizations.
A deputy fire chief appointed earlier this year to oversee the D.C. fire department's troubled apparatus division is being demoted to battalion chief after the embarrassing discovery that several ambulances were repaired with street signs.
A D.C. firefighter filed a police complaint accusing Fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe of assault, pointing to an encounter last week when the chief showed up on the scene of an ambulance fire and grabbed the man's cell phone from his hand.
The D.C. fire department is set to hire civilian paramedics to address dire shortages in its emergency medical services workforce — moving forward with a major policy shift that reverses decades of efforts to establish an agency whose employees are cross-trained as both medics and firefighters.
City officials have asked police to investigate two fires that occurred Tuesday aboard D.C. ambulances amid a series of embarrassing failures with the District's emergency medical fleet that has affected everyone from regular residents to the president of the United States.
Widespread ambulance breakdowns brought on by high summer temperatures have overwhelmed the D.C. fire department — causing it to send 22 ambulances to other agency's mechanics for repairs and to outsource coverage of special events to private ambulance companies for the coming weeks, according to agency officials.
A D.C. Council member is calling on the District's fire chief to resign, after the release last week of a committee report that questioned the chief's leadership ability and recommended disapproval of his signature ambulance redeployment plan.
D.C. police officers are spending too much time in hospitals, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier says. But the problem isn't officers getting hurt on the job, it's officers being sent to hospitals to guard people who have been arrested.
Officials within the D.C. mayor's administration spent much of Monday clarifying comments made by Mayor Vincent C. Gray about whether the fire department could effectively respond to a disaster such as the recent Boston Marathon bombings.
The police union is weighing in on safety concerns involving operations within the District's Office of Unified Communications, which handled more than 1.3 million 911 emergency calls last year.
Skeptical D.C. Council members demanded answers from the city's fire chief Thursday on what they said were serious and systemic problems with the department in the wake of a string of failed responses to emergency calls.
The District's ambulances have been sabotaged. The assertion, laid out in a D.C. inspector general's report, is the latest tit-for-tat allegation highlighting the erosion of relations between labor and management within the city's Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.
During the hearing, Mr. Quander said five firefighters' lack of response was "an absolute failure to do what was appropriate."
He said neither of those issues contributed directly to the failures at Engine 26.