Investigation underway on response to man's death near DC fire s - KMSP-TV

Investigation underway on response to man's death near DC fire station

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Medric "Cecil" Mills Jr. Medric "Cecil" Mills Jr.

Investigators with the internal affairs section of the D.C. fire department are trying to figure out why no one came to the aid of a dying man despite pleas for help.

The investigation is attempting to learn why the members of Truck 15 never left the firehouse and why dispatchers with the Office of Unified Communications initially sent help to the wrong quadrant of the city.

We now know part of the investigation is focusing on a rookie and the lieutenant assigned to the truck.

When 77-year-old Cecil Mills collapsed in the parking lot of a Northeast D.C. strip mall, his daughter Marie ran to his side while others simultaneously called 911 and ran across the street to the firehouse for help.

But in those frantic moments, no one left the firehouse and the people seeking help were told to call 911.

"Everybody was screaming and hollering at him across the street: ‘Why can't he come? It's not making sense,’” said Marie Mills. “And that’s where I think it was three separate people who went across to the fire station.”

Sources familiar with the investigation say it took at least nine minutes for help to arrive in part because dispatchers originally sent an ambulance to the 1300 block of Rhode Island Avenue in Northwest D.C. instead of Northeast D.C.

“Events like this should not, cannot happen in the District of Columbia,” said Paul Quander, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety. “It's unacceptable.”

The fire department initially declined to share any facts of the investigation, but Quander did.

“We know we had a very new probationary employee at the facility and the first response is to ask a senior person, and we believe that was done,” said Quander. “The question now is what did that senior person say? What did that person do? Did they follow protocols and procedures?”

When Cecil Mills collapsed across the street last Saturday, there was no engine or ambulance here at the firehouse. It was just Ladder 15 with five firefighters assigned to it -- all of them trained as emergency medical technicians.

According to the fire department’s protocol, if someone comes to the door of the firehouse and ask for help, you either ring the bells, get on the intercom or find the officer in charge.

According to sources familiar with the investigation, there are conflicting stories being told and it is unclear exactly what happened.

"It was appalling and unacceptable on any level,” said Kenny Lyons. “As a provider for over 25 years, I have never heard of that level of failure.”

Lyons is a paramedic and the president of the union representing the civilian EMS providers for D.C. Fire and EMS.

"On so many different levels, it’s hard to believe,” he said. “First, as a human being toward another human being, it's hard to believe. But as a provider who has taken a sworn oath, it is hard to believe that somehow or another, it didn't matter.”

Lyons says the department needs to go in another direction and rethink how it delivers EMS care to the city.

Marie Mills said she believes it took at least 15 minutes for help to arrive.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, she has not heard from anyone other than the initial conversation she had with the fire chief over the weekend.

Related Story:

Daughter of dying DC man says firefighter ignored pleas for help

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