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DC man dies while waiting for ambulance

The man died while more than 100 firefighters called in sick on New Year's Eve

By FireRescue1 Staff

WASHINGTON — A D.C. man died while waiting for an ambulance amidst a city-wide staff shortage when more than 100 firefighters called in sick on New Year's Eve.

At least 11 ambulances were unmanned and supervisors had to ask for help from Prince George's County as a result of all the sick calls, according to My Fox DC.

A man in cardiac arrest died after he waited for an ambulance for 40 minutes. A stabbing victim had to be transported in a fire truck because no ambulances were readily available.

Internal D.C. Fire Department documents say crews were on the go nonstop trying to keep up with the constant calls.

In an attempt to replace the lost manpower, Chief Kenneth Ellerbe asked officials to lift a cap that prevents crews form working overtime. While the cap was lifted, only two out of 50 firefighters decided to keep working over the capped time.

Chief Ellerbe told the TV station that the large number of sick calls could be due to firefighters taking advantage of their minor illness program, allowing them to call out sick three times a year without going to a clinic.

The head of the firefighters union, Ed Smith, says that the large amount of callouts was not a coordinated effort against the department, despite prior disputes.




Comments
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Angela Jo Arnold Powell Angela Jo Arnold Powell Thursday, January 03, 2013 11:02:19 AM I am a FF/EMTI and people die every day , that person might of died even if a unit was able to get him , don't blame FF/EMT `s for deaths.
Greg Bieniek Greg Bieniek Thursday, January 03, 2013 11:29:53 AM No offense but, he didn't get a chance to survive.
Kevin W Cooper Kevin W Cooper Thursday, January 03, 2013 11:38:34 AM I work.
Claude Kerley Claude Kerley Thursday, January 03, 2013 12:59:12 PM Sorry the man died, sometimes those patients with cardiac arrest die frequently, whether 6 mins or 40mins...
Donnie Eller Donnie Eller Thursday, January 03, 2013 1:39:38 PM That is a bullshit statement to make are you in the fire service
John McKenna John McKenna Thursday, January 03, 2013 6:28:59 PM I don't know how many firefighter/EMTs are employed by the DC service, but if the number is in the thousands than 100 is not a large number calling in sick. There have been more than 3000 cases of a lousy stomach virus - often erroneously called "stomach flu" this past month in Nassau and Suffolk Counties alone here in New York. I personally was sick New Years Day and the following day (no I did not go out nor party New Years Eve). The stomach virus has run rapid through our firehouse. Sorry the man you reported on passed away. But I don't think its fair at all to imply that 100 firefighters/EMTs purposely took the day off without any regard to that gentleman's or anyone's needs.
John Bender John Bender Thursday, January 03, 2013 6:34:56 PM john, 2000 all in, in DC
Dan Gallagher Dan Gallagher Thursday, January 03, 2013 6:59:51 PM Could also be because the chief in DC has made it his personal mission to destroy morale for the whole dept and ruin careers on the way.
Jon Whiskey Jon Whiskey Thursday, January 03, 2013 8:56:33 PM 100 employees not showing up for work ON NEW YEARS EVE...gimme a break. You think that's a coincidence? That IS a large number, 20 would be a small number. If there are so many professional firefighters unhappy with their jobs I'd be very happy to take a position for less pay, and more work. Just NOT in DC where you basically have no rights.
Jeff Headrick Jeff Headrick Thursday, January 03, 2013 10:34:15 PM Perhaps they just called out to go get hammered on NYE.
Patrick McKeon Patrick McKeon Friday, January 04, 2013 3:18:33 AM Administration, frustration, or whatever... As firefighters and paramedics you have a responsibility to the people of D.C. They should all be fired.
Chajka C Kevin Chajka C Kevin Friday, January 04, 2013 8:44:16 AM the guy prob would of died anyways. people die it happens.
Chajka C Kevin Chajka C Kevin Friday, January 04, 2013 8:47:44 AM Greg Bieniek do we know if he had a shockable rhythm? so what if a guy died who got shot in the foot and died then yes that would be a reason to say wtf, but that guy was going to died anyways
James Ephraim London James Ephraim London Friday, January 04, 2013 9:03:14 AM Bullshit statement? I'm sure ur the first to vote against any benefits or pay for ff/paramedics but the first to bash them. I'm tired if the public blaming everyone but themselves. You try working a 24 hour shift and then 48 hr shift with minimal time to recover. Management handles staffing period. Maybe the people who call 9-1-1 for a stubbed toe or bc they have the flu that are tying up units for the cardiac arrest patients should be to blame. Keep ur ignorant comments to urself people
Wayne Heaton Wayne Heaton Friday, January 04, 2013 10:07:00 AM okay I understand the thought process of people die everyday, but under that same thought process if people just die everyday then why have an ambulance service. Before any statement is made put yourself as the spouse or other family member that had to wait for 40 minutes after calling 911. ESPECIALLY if he did die and they had to sit with him! I am not saying the guy would have made it or not, but by the same token you can not say he would have died either.
Sean McSpedden Sean McSpedden Friday, January 04, 2013 5:10:49 PM There are many facets to this argument, including the fact that often the ambulances in heavy populated areas such as Houston, where I work, are often inundated with calls where an ambulance isn't necessary at all. We've all run the call where the 911 caller "doesn't feel good" while puffing a black and mild, having ignored their physicians orders and their albuterol / ipratropium for the last week. There are also rural areas where the ambulance is 45 min +/- every day. It's just life. (or death in this case)
Sean McSpedden Sean McSpedden Friday, January 04, 2013 5:32:23 PM There are many facets to this argument, including the fact that often the ambulances in heavy populated areas such as Houston, where I work, are often inundated with calls where an ambulance isn't necessary at all. We've all run the call where the 911 caller "doesn't feel good" while puffing a black and mild, having ignored their physicians orders and their albuterol / ipratropium for the last week. There are also rural areas where the ambulance is 45 min +/- every day. It's just life. (or death in this case).
Bill Cartwright Bill Cartwright Friday, January 04, 2013 8:58:29 PM Chajka C Kevin no one knows if he had a shockable rythm or not. And we never will. This person may well have died from the heart attack, or he may have lived if not for the long response time. As greg stated bove, he was not given the chance to survive. The fact of the matter is that 100 firefighters and medics decided to leave their city so short handed that emergency services were stretched beyond it's limits.
Chuck Dusick Chuck Dusick Friday, January 04, 2013 10:00:37 PM IF YOU NEW ANYTHING ABOUT THE WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN D C AREA YOU KNOW THAT YOU BECOME A TAXI SERVICE FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE TO GET OUT TO BUY DRUGS OR BOOSE DON'T BLAME THE FIRE AND E M S PERSON ELL JUST BECAUSE THE CITY WANT TO SAVE MONEY THEY HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR YEARS... I'AM QUITE SURE THAT IF THEY CALL EARLY THEY WOULD. HAVE THE PERSON ELL TO COVER THAT SHIFT / I'LL BACK THE GUYS FROM D C.
Chajka C Kevin Chajka C Kevin Monday, January 07, 2013 3:51:02 PM well chief, there was something in the water and exactly 100 people got sick

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