- The Washington Times - Friday, June 23, 2006

Two additional D.C. fire department employees were suspended yesterday in connection with the inadequate response to the fatal beating of New York Times journalist David E. Rosenbaum in January.

The suspensions bring to five the number of department personnel disciplined in the case so far.

Deputy Chief Michael L. Willis, the department’s director of training, was suspended for three days and reassigned to the department’s Office of Risk Management, said sources close to the matter.

Sources said Sheila Watson, the emergency medical services training director, also was reassigned.

Fire department spokeswoman Kathryn Friedman would not confirm either of the suspensions but said “Chief [Adrian H.] Thompson has initiated additional personnel actions this week and more are expected.”

Chief Thompson said yesterday on radio station WAMU-FM (88.5) that the training academy has a database on firefighters and emergency medical technicians and should be aware of the status of their certifications.

“There were some things the training academy found out that, maybe in terms of people having proper certifications, they didn’t have that kind of certification when they should have had it and they didn’t tell us at the top,” he said.

Chief Thompson also pledged to take action “to make sure” that doesn’t happen again.

Mr. Rosenbaum was robbed and beaten Jan. 6 in Northwest and died two days later.

According to a report issued June 16 by the Office of the Inspector General, firefighters who responded to the scene did not assess or treat Mr. Rosenbaum correctly.

The report suggests the failures may be systemic and point out that the first responders did not understand the scope of their jobs and the basic protocols for patient care.

It also stated the fire department has no mechanism to evaluate the performance of firefighters as emergency medical technicians and that civilian technicians are evaluated inconsistently.

Ed Reiskin, deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said Thursday that he expects a personnel review of department workers involved in the Rosenbaum case to be completed by late next week.

So far, the department has begun termination proceedings against Selena Walker, who drove the ambulance that responded to the scene.

Assistant Director of EMS Operations Jerome Stack was suspended for 10 days, and EMS supervisor Harry Jones retired instead of accepting a reduction in rank.

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