- The Washington Times - Friday, November 4, 2005

Fire officials are investigating why dispatchers sent an ambulance from Northwest to respond to a fatal crash in Southeast when a paramedic ambulance was less than two miles from the accident scene.

Police said Charles Montgomery, 34, of the 500 block of E dgewood Terrace Northeast, was riding his bicycle eastbound on G Street Southeast at about 11:20 p.m. Thursday when he made a right turn on a red light onto Benning Road.

Investigators think Mr. Montgomery turned into oncoming traffic and was struck by a 1997 Dodge Ram pickup truck driven by John Jennings, 73, of the 4300 block of Hayes Street Southeast.

Mr. Montgomery died from his injuries.

No charges had been filed against Mr. Jennings yesterday and police said the case was under investigation.

The fire department is also taking a closer look at the case.

According to fire department records, the first 911 call came in at 11:26 p.m., and dispatchers with the city’s Office of Unified Communications assigned Engine 27 and Medic 30 to the call at 11:29 p.m.

Paramedics aboard Medic 30 notified the dispatcher that they were at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Northwest — 12.4 miles away.

Engine 27, stationed 1.8 miles away, arrived at the scene at 11:33 p.m. and began performing CPR. A firefighter aboard the engine called the dispatcher and said they needed paramedics and that Medic 27 had been in the firehouse when the engine responded to the call.

The dispatcher did not respond to the request.

A paramedic supervisor who was monitoring the call went on the radio and ordered the dispatcher to send Medic 27.

At 11:36 p.m., the dispatcher sent Medic 27. The ambulance arrived four minutes later, at 11:40 p.m. — 14 minutes after the initial 911 call was placed.

Mr. Montgomery was taken to Prince George’s Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Fire department spokesman Alan Etter said the department takes the incident “very seriously,” and that it is “under investigation.”

E. Michael Latessa, director of the Office of Unified Communications, also said he is looking into it.

“We’re reviewing the incident, he said. “We don’t know what the issue is in this case.”

Earlier this year, The Washington Times reported that the fire department had investigated numerous incidents in which dispatchers gave rescuers incorrect or incomplete information.

The police and fire departments also are investigating dispatcher errors that occurred more recently:

• On Oct. 17, dispatchers sent police to the wrong quadrant of the city after a woman called 911 to report that she had been beaten and robbed near a Metro station in Northwest.

• On Oct. 10, a dispatcher broadcast the wrong tone over the wrong radio channel when the on-scene commander at a fire in the 1300 block of Kenilworth Avenue Northeast called for an emergency evacuation.

• On Sept. 18, a man who suffered a head injury in a soccer match in Northwest waited for more than 40 minutes for an ambulance because the dispatcher mistakenly classified the call as low priority.

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