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.