NOTE: The City of Phoenix also lost a police officer today. Officer Daryl Raetz was also pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital. He had been hit by a vehicle that fled the scene at an incident in West Phoenix (scene video here).
23-year-old Bradley Harper had just finished fighting a mulch fire in south Phoenix Saturday night, when a fire truck and ambulance tried to pass each other on a narrow road. Harper, who was taking off his gear at the time, found himself pinned between the two vehicles.
He would later be pronounced dead following his arrival at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
“When you’re one of us, you really love these people,” said Phoenix Fire chief Bob Khan. “It’s an uncommon bond.”
Phoenix lost two first-responders Sunday as a firefighter who was wounded in a mulch fire died from his injuries and a police officer was killed in a hit-and-run incident in west Phoenix, authorities said.
The police officer, identified as Daryl Raetz, was killed early Sunday in an incident at 51st and Cambridge avenues, just south of Thomas Road. Authorities said the driver of the vehicle that struck the officer fled.
Raetz, 29, was a veteran of the Iraq War, officials said. He was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.
Department officials said the firefighter was trapped between two emergency vehicles and was transported to the hospital in extremely critical condition. The Phoenix Police Department is investigating the accident, which happened around 5:30 p.m. in the area of 39th Avenue and Miami Street. The fire department was responding to a fire at a fertilizer company, according to fire officials.
Phoenix police said crews were repositioning several trucks when the firefighter became pinned. It’s still unclear exactly how that happened.
Saturday night firefighters were huddled outside the entrance of the emergency room at the hospital while the young man’s wife and parents waited inside.
Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan described the firefighter as resilient. Khan said the 23-year-old had been a member of the department for two years and that he volunteered to be assigned to Phoenix’s busiest fire unit.
Thanks to our mutual friend Mike Brooks for passing along this really wonderful story about Firefighter Tad Landau, DeKalb County (GA) Fire Station #1. Please take a break from our usual fire porn to watch this.
The dwelling, a two-story Victorian, was used as a few separate apartments, and was less than a quarter-mile from the closest fire company, so they arrived quickly. On arrival they had heavy fire and smoke. When they went inside, they found Steven Stark, 58, on the second floor. He was taken to Northwest Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
At some point, volunteer Firefighter Gene Kirchner, 24, issued a mayday call from inside the home. Firefighters found him unconscious, rescued him and transported him to Northwest Hospital, then to Baltimore Shock Trauma, where his condition is critical. What happened and why is unknown yet.
Steven Stark, 58, of the unit block of Hanover Road, was found in an upstairs hallway of his home during an intense search and rescue effort and transported to Northwest Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead, said Captain Rich Schenning, a department spokesman.
Kirchner, whose exact age was not immediately available, was resuscitated at the scene and transported to Northwest Hospital Center before being transferred to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was listed in critical condition Wednesday morning, Schenning said.
Firefighters conducting a secondary search of the home located Stark, Schenning said.
Firefighters were met by heavy fire and smoke. When they went inside, they said they found Steven Stark, 58, on the second floor. He was taken to Northwest Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Baltimore County fire officials said a volunteer firefighter, identified as Gene Kirchner, 24, issued a mayday call and collapsed inside the home. Crews found him and took him to Northwest Hospital. He was then transferred to Shock Trauma, where his condition isn’t known.
Officials said the bulk of the fire was held to the back portion of the house. Fire investigators are still looking for the cause. 11 News has learned that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been called in to assist.
WacoTrib.com has come up with a list of 11 of the 14 people who died in the explosion Wednesday in West, Texas. Nine of the 11 are firefighters. To my knowledge this is not from an “official” release from authorities in Texas. You will note that in addition to the West VFD and Dallas Fire & Rescue, previously mentioned, the firefighters are from the fire departments of Mertens, Navarro Mills and Abbott.
• Morris Bridges, 41. Fire sprinkler technician for Action Fire Pros. Member of West Volunteer Fire Department.
• Perry Calvin, 37. Student at Hill College Fire Academy. Member of Mertens and Navarro Mills volunteer fire departments.
• Jerry Chapman, 26. Member of Abbott Volunteer Fire Department.
• Cody Dragoo, 50. Foreman at West Fertilizer Co. Member of West Volunteer Fire Department.
• Kenny Harris, 52. Dallas city fire captain.
• Jimmy Matus, 52. Owner of Westex Welding in West.
• Joey Pustejovsky. West City Secretary. Member of West Volunteer Fire Department.
• Cyrus Reed. Worked at Waxahachie plant. Member of Abbott Volunteer Fire Department.
• Robert Snokhaus, 48. Central Texas Iron Works employee, West volunteer firefighter.
• Doug Snokhaus, 50. Central Texas Iron Works employee, West volunteer firefighter.
• Buck Uptmor, 40s. Owner of fencing company. Lived near West.
“It’s tough, man,” said Steve Vanek, West’s mayor pro tem and volunteer fireman who survived the blast. “All these guys we’ve known all our lives. One of the firemen that died was a lifelong friend of my son. I’ve known him since he was born.”
Vanek also said Friday that the West Volunteer Fire Department lost three of its five fire engines in the blast, including a new $200,000 pumper. He said the department will rebuild, but in the meantime it will need help from its neighbors.
“You talk about family — I mean, it really is,” Vanek said.Case in point were longtime West volunteer firefighters Robert and Doug Snokhaus. Robert, 48, and Doug, 50, also worked at Central Texas Iron Works in Waco, where they were on the emergency response team.“
They were both amazing professionals at their respective responsibilities and not only long time employees but friends to everyone here at CTIW,” said company president David Harwell in an email to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The number of people dead following the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas last night is still unclear, with varying reports coming from different officials and news organizations. What is consistent in the reporting is that firefighters and paramedics are among the dead and unaccounted for.
A briefing at 8:30 local time again confirmed again there are missing firefighters. At the briefing it was also reported that a police officer/volunteer firefighter initially reported as missing as found this morning at a Waco hospital suffering serious injuries.
Update at 8:30 a.m. Thursday: Sgt W. Patrick Swanton, the Waco police spokesman handling media briefings in West, said at a press conference a little after 8:20 this morning that search and rescue teams are still looking for survivors.
That “is good news to me,” he said. That means authorities have “not gotten to the point of no return.”
Swanton did not update the number of those injured or killed, and he did not release names of any of the casualties. He repeated the earlier figure of five to 15 people killed but said that’s based on “very limited” information from “folks at the scene,” including local, state and federal officials.
One emergency worker who had been reported as missing, a constable serving as a volunteer firefighter, has been found hospitalized with “serious” injuries. Three or four first responders, among the first to fight the fire before the fertilizer plant exploded shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday, remain missing, Swanton said.
Swanton also said a “small amount” of looting was reported overnight.
Rescuers continued working Thursday morning in West in spite of a cold rain after a long night of door-to-door searches for victims of a Wednesday night explosion that killed between 5 and 15 people and injured more than 100 more.
Six firefighters and two paramedics are confirmed dead and seven nursing home residents were missing after the blast according to West EMS Director Dr. George Smith, who said earlier Wednesday night as many as 60 or 70 people may have died in the blast at West Fertilizer.
One police officer who was reported missing was located Thursday morning at Waco hospital where he was being treated for several injuries.
Smith said early Thursday morning he expects more bodies will be found during the search of damaged and destroyed homes.
At 4:15 a.m., West, Texas EMS director Dr. George Smith confirmed that two paramedics lost their lives in Tuesday night’s explosion at West Fertilizer Company. He said six firefighters remained unaccounted for.
A major explosion occurred Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant in the city of West, near Hillsboro in north-central Texas – killing between five and 15 people and injuring at least 160 more.
Waco Police Spokesperson Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said a fire began Wednesday evening at the West Fertilizer plant. Fifty minutes later, an explosion was reported in a frantic radio call from the scene of the fire at the plant at 1471 Jerry Mashek Dr. just off Interstate 35.
At least five to 15 people were killed and more than 160 wounded when a large fertilizer plant explosion rocked a small Texas town late Wednesday, destroying dozens of homes under a cloud of toxic smoke, police said.
Between three and five firefighters were still missing, Waco, Texas, police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton told reporters early Thursday.
Firefighters, including local volunteers, were battling a blaze at the time of the blast, which caused a ground tremor equivalent to a magnitude-2.1 earthquake, the USGS said. In Amarillo, Texas, a seismograph recorded the blast with a magnitude of 2.5, Swanton said.
This is helmet-cam video from Justin Hastings of a fire reported just before 11:00 AM on April 10 at 1442 Yosemite Street in Seaside, California (Monterey County). A little girl was rescued by a neighbor (seen in the video in the arms of a police officer) and her mother was rescued through a window by the first arriving firefighters. Both were taken by helicopter to a hospital in San Jose. Three others were hurt in the fire.
Seaside Deputy Police Chief Louis Lumpkin said two other people were taken to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula for treatment of burns, and a fifth victim refused treatment at the scene. The fire broke out about 10:50 a.m. at the Del Monte Manor apartments.
Neighbor Alexis Hunter, who called herself a family friend, said she entered the burning apartment and found the child, whom she identified as 3-year-old Kaijah Collins, lying in a hallway just inside the front door. She scooped up the child in her arms and left the building.
The child’s mother, whom Hunter identified as 35-year-old Michelle Collins, was trapped in a second-floor bedroom, calling for help but refusing to exit through the upstairs window because she didn’t know where her daughter was, witnesses said.
Firefighters helped the woman out of the window and brought her down a ladder to safety.
“I saw the Mom just banging on the window and so I ran over there,” said Alexis Hunter, who lives in the complex.
Hunter said what came next was a burst of adrenaline.
“I touched the door knob to see is if it was hot,” said Hunter.
She looked inside and saw three-year-old Keasha laying on the ground, by now a maintenance man made his way up to the apartment and together they burst inside and pulled little Keasha out.
“I took her down the stairs and I kept talking to her, because I know the little girl since she was a baby, I was like Keasha, pay attention look at me, she was breathing,” said Hunter.
But Keasha was badly burned, and Keasha’s Mom was still inside. Hunter said people tried getting her out but the smoke was too thick, so they went around got a ladder and tried getting her out from the back window. That’s when first responders arrived and helped pull Keasha’s Mom out.
A fire burned a fabric shop, upstairs apartments and a neighboring boutique Saturday evening, causing a partial roof collapse that killed a firefighter and injured a colleague who was trying to rescue him, officials said.
Captain Michael Goodwin, 53, was killed in the line of duty, Amy Daly, a nursing supervisor at Jefferson University Hospitals, told The Associated Press. Goodwin was a 29-year veteran of the fire department. Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says he was killed in a fall from the third floor roof to the second.
The second firefighter, Andrew Godlinski, 28, of Ladder 2, was hospitalized with burns. Officials say he was injured while trying to rescue Captain Goodwin. He is expected to survive.
Officials say Captain Goodwin belonged to Ladder 27. His comrades saluted as his body was carried out and taken to the hospital.
Engine-11 arrived on scene with smoke showing from the first floor of three story store front with apartments above. B/C-4 reported companies had trouble located the seat of the fire in the basement of fabric store. Placed all hands in service Deputy-1 requested the second alarm. Command ordered all companies out of the building and went in service with an exterior operations. Command requested the third alarm struck for heavy fire through out. Command requested a the collapse unit for a firefighter trapped after a collapse of the building.
The firefighter was recovered from the building and transported to the hospital with serious injuries. Another firefighter was burned in an attempt to rescue the trapped firefighter.
The firefighter was pronounced at the hospital. He had been the Captain of Ladder-27.
The collapse left the firefighter trapped inside the building on the street known as Fabric Row, officials said. Other firefighters saluted as his body was carried out on a stretcher and taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
The fatality came just short of a year since the last time Philadelphia firefighters died in the line of duty. A warehouse blaze in the Kensington section last April 11 killed Capt. Robert Neary, 59, and Daniel Sweeney, 25, both from Ladder 10, and injured two other firefighters.
“We have a department that is wounded,” Ayers said. “We have scars that are fresh, and indeed they have now been reopened.”
The first engine arrived four minutes after the fire call came in, Ayers said. One person inside the building at the time was taken out by firefighters, as they stretched hoses into the building and went to work.
It was 31 minutes after the initial call when the second alarm was struck. Ayers said the crews faced “faced heavy smoke, heavy fire,” adding that from the exterior you could see fabric throughout the store.
It was 6:21 p.m. when officials were informed that a member of the department was “down.” The report changed to one member “missing,” and a third alarm was struck by 6:30 p.m.
Ayers said they found out subsequently that the firefighter “had fallen from the third-floor roof to the second-floor roof.”
“Firefighters were trying to rescue him from the second-floor roof when that roof collapsed,” the fire commissioner went on to say.
For those who have been a part of or followed fire and EMS in our Nation’s Capital for a long time, the recent news about major fleet problems and delayed EMS response has a familiar ring to it. We lived it for more than decade starting in the late 1980s.
If you watch this series of WUSA-TV news reports focusing on the mid to late 1990s, you should get a feel for DCFD from that era. This is a time when the City was under the direction of the District of Columbia Financial Control Board because of serious money problems. While I can’t recall specific dates on all of these reports (my mind isn’t nearly as sharp as the reporter featured in the video), here’s what I have been able to figure out. I’m sure there are many standing by to correct me if I screw up any of the dates.
I am not sure of the date on story two about the delay to help Gloria Scott on Michigan Avenue, Northeast. Judging by the PIO (Battalion Chief Alvin Carter), I believe it is also the mid 1990s.
Story three is easy. It’s Monday, January 4, 1999. On that day the brand new mayor, Anthony Williams, during his very first weekday on the job, was confronted about an AWOL ambulance crew, reported by Channel 9 the night before.
Story four, about the ambulance with the missing stretcher and no ambulance being available for a patient during a winter storm, happened in the middle of January, 1999.
The fifth story, covering Chief Donald Edwards’ appearance before the Control Board asking for five more ambulances and a firefighter going with a patient to the hospital in a taxi (yes, a taxi) because there were no ambulances available, also appears to be from early 1999.
In story six, likely also from early 1999, the topic is whether EMS should be a separate agency, or third service, and includes the views of the two union heads.
Story seven aired shortly after the May 30, 1999 deaths of Firefighter Anthony Phillips and Firefighter Louis Matthews at a townhouse fire in Northeast Washington. It looks at the sorry state of the department’s fleet of ladder trucks and its possible impact on the deadly fire. Click here to download the internal report about the Cherry Road fire.
Hope you don’t mind the history lesson. A warning for you. Please be kind about the physical appearance of the reporter as compared to today. I hear he’s a very sensitive guy and, trust me, you don’t want to hurt his feelings.
It is getting a lot uglier in New York over social media use by those in public safety. Today’s article by Candace M. Giove and Brad Hamilton in the New York Post takes the problem of Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome (SMACSS) in FDNY EMS beyond the fire commissioner’s son and the lieutenant with the racist tweets.
PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING: My prediction is this article will be national news by tomorrow and will have reverberations across the country on the use of social media by fire, EMS and police. If you have a similar problem in your own department, my suggestion is to take care of it now before it becomes news. There will soon be reporters everywhere looking for this.
Here’s how the article begins:
The Bad Lieutenant is part of a sick clique.
In addition to uploading racist rants and Nazi nonsense, EMS Lt. Timothy Dluhos also posted pictures of patients, including one of a heavy-set woman with a snarky caption Photoshopped over her wheelchair: “Wide Load.”
Publicizing photos of the ill, injured or dead without permission is a violation of city rules and federal privacy laws, but some first responders can’t resist snapping shots of people they’re supposed to be helping.
The photos of grisly corpses, gruesome wounds or humiliating circumstances provide fodder for mocking and gawking.
You may recall last Sunday’s story where reporter Candace Giove confronted Lt. Dluhos about his hate filled tweets. That’s when Lt. Dluhos, who is now suspended without pay, broke down and cried over the possibility of losing his job. Since then people claiming to be supporters of the lieutenant have targeted Candace Giove with a series of hate filled messages and death threats. Here is an excerpt from the New York Post article by Brad Hamilton:
On Wednesday night, Footer and P-Rock, hosts of an online radio program called “The Red Show,” poured out their admiration for Dluhos.
“I love him,” gushed P-Rock. “He’s a brave motherf–ker, but in the end he’s going to come out fine . . . He’s been cornered as a racist, and that’s not true. Tim’s our guy.”
“The guy’s getting railroaded here,” remarked Footer.
Dluhos called in to thank the radio show for its support. The two hosts then took pot shots at Giove. “Like I said to that dumb c—, ‘He’s out there saving lives!’ ” said Footer.
Then the hosts tried to guess the reporter’s ethnicity: “For me she looked a little yellow, like Middle Eastern. I don’t think she should be allowed to carry a backpack.”
“By God’s grace. Obviously I had someone watching over me that morning,” was how Dayton Fire Capt. Barry Cron described surviving the injury he suffered Tuesday while responding to an accident on U.S. 35.
Cron was on the scene where a vehicle overturned in the median. While police, firefighters and medics were on the scene, icy conditions caused more vehicles to crash. Cron was struck while checking on the occupants in one of the wrecked vehicles. The impact threw him almost 30 feet.
“I can’t believe it. it’s just unbelievable,” he said about seeing the accident that was captured in cruiser cam video. He said he had about a half second warning before he was hit, and was waiting for another car to hit him as was lying on the ground, unable to move.
A Dayton fire captain who survived a dramatic crash Tuesday on U.S. 35 said he had less than a second’s warning that he was about to be thrown through the air.
Captain Barry Cron said he was conscious the whole time and remembers a half second of tires skidding before he was tumbling. He landed on his back in the snow and immediately began to assess his own injuries.
When Cron’s ladder crew arrived on the scene just before 5:30 a.m. there were only a few cars that had slid off the icy roadway, he said. He was assessing a victim in one of the vehicles when another lost control and slammed into the pileup.
Cron told media Thursday he has three broken ribs and has a fracture in his leg and a lot of bumps and bruises.
“Management is absolutely accountable for the problems of this agency, and it goes back to making sure they have the equipment they need to do their jobs,” said council member Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat and chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety that held Thursday’s hearing.
During several sharp exchanges, department leadership rebuffed characterizations that the issues were widespread, with Mr. Quander laying out plans to address what he referred to as the “isolated” incidents, and the chief adding that he believes the “department’s fleet remains in an acceptable state of readiness for potential major events in the city.”
“Rarely is it about one person. It is about a system and the lack of quality control,” Mr. Mendelson said, later appearing incredulous that the chief had such inaccurate information about the condition of his fleet.
D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe acknowledged on Thursday that he led his agency for about a year using faulty data about the state of its fleet, and he apologized for repeated ambulance shortages that left the ill, injured and dying waiting for help.
“We were operating with an outdated list,” said Ellerbe, who told lawmakers that current statistics show that nearly half of the District’s 111 ambulances are out of service. “It was inaccurate for approximately a year.”
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson was incredulous.
“I just don’t understand how the chief of the fire and EMS department would not know how many vehicles are available,” Mendelson said as lawmakers continued to absorb a scathing report from the D.C. inspector general that said the department’s fleet was unprepared for a catastrophic emergency.
The chair of D.C. City Council’s public safety committee grilled the fire chief for 2 1/2 hours on Friday during a contentious hearing on whether slow response times and maintenance failures are endangering the lives of sick and injured residents.
Deputy Mayor for public safety Paul A Quander Jr., who sat beside Ellerbe, said the chief needs to move forward with plans to revamp schedules and deployment to keep up with a changing city.
He said the fire service is no longer a “fire department that sometimes handles medical calls, but instead it is a mobile medical hospital agency that occasionally handles fires.”
Nearly half of the ambulances serving the District of Columbia are out of service, an apologetic D.C. Fire Chief Ken Ellerbe testified Thursday before members of the D.C. Council.
Ellerbe, who has faced multiple calls for his resignation in the midst of numerous issues facing the city’s fire and EMS response capabilities, said that the equipment problems his department faces are due to them “holding on to things” for too long.
The chief told members of the D.C. Council that just 58 of the District’s 111 ambulances are currently in service.
For Ellerbe, Thursday’s hearing was an uncomfortable grilling. But for Durand Ford, Jr., it was like ripping the scab off a wound.
His father, Durand Ford, Sr., died from a heart attack on New Year’s Day while waiting for an ambulance. Ford’s death was one of three incidents under the microscope during Thursday’s testimony on slow response times.
At issue is whether the three problems in the last three months are because of a systemic breakdown or if, as Chief Ellerbe and Deputy Mayor Paul Quander contend, unfortunate outliers.
“The events of New Year’s Day are atypical, hopefully never happen again,” Quander says.
More than 100 firefighters called out sick on New Year’s Eve. But the subsequent two incidents involving an MPD motorcycle officer and a stroke patient being transported in the cab of a fire truck are being blamed on an aging fleet and a lack of paramedics.
“Sometimes it takes an incident to realize there are these issues,” Ellerbe says.
Ford, however, calls these problems just an opportunity to punt the blame.
The department came under even more intense scrutiny on March 5 after a Metropolitan Police Department officer had to wait nearly 20 minute for a mutual aide Prince George’s County ambulance to tend to him on after he was injured in a hit-and-run in Southeast.
A recently-released city report indicated that three D.C. ambulances were improperly out of service that night, forcing the need for a Maryland-based unit to respond. The officer finally made it to an area hospital nearly an hour after he was hit.
Seven city employees were disciplined for the inadequate response.
Ellerbe also said that the department had been operating under an incorrect inventory list for about a year.
In response, though, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson told Ellerbe that the issues were a “management problem” and that he needs to find a staff that can get their jobs done more effectively.
In a statement released Thursday, Ed Smith, the president of the D.C. Fire Union Local 36, said that the D.C. Fire & EMS Department is living on “borrowed time.”
“Nothing proves Chief Ellerbe’s negligence more than the state of the fleet of reserve ambulances and fire trucks that is supposed to be at the ready at all times,” Smith said. “The fleet is virtually non-existent and has been a key factor in recent well-publicized EMS failures.”
Ellerbe overwhelmingly received a vote of no confidence from the fire union on Monday. Immediately after the 300-37 vote, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander threw their support behind Ellerbe.
“Despite the ‘no confidence’ vote tallied by the local firefighters union, I am very optimistic about the department’s future and encouraged by the service we provide to District residents and visitors,” Ellerbe said in a statement after the vote.
His department also faced scrutiny over claims of sexual harassment in February. Numerous cadets told ABC7′s Jay Korff that two training academy instructors repeatedly harassed them.
Only 58 of the District’s 111 ambulances are currently in service, D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe testified before a city council committee Thursday.
Ellerbe added that the District only has 245 paramedics, well short of its target of 300. Even that number is less impressive than it appears since Ellerbe disclosed that not all paramedics do field work or receive calls.
The failure to provide an ambulance to a police officer injured in a hit-and-run and two other incidents — including the death of a man who died while waiting for an ambulance — have raised questions about whether the department has enough resources to handle the emergency call volume in the fast-growing city.
Those three incidents, all within 90 days of each other, prompted the hearing, said D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells.
Ellerbe apologized during Thursday’s testimony. “I’d like to offer my sincere apology to the families,” he said. “I’m deeply troubled … I accept responsibility.”
The chief also apologized for misinformation on the department’s inventory of vehicles, saying that the department had faulty inventory records for a year.
An internal investigation had blamed individual employees for the slow ambulance response — but the District’s inspector general has also found a lack of adequate reserve vehicles, both ambulances and fire trucks. At any given time, only 39 ambulances are active in the District.
Ellerbe told the Council committee Thursday that although “the audit is still ongoing,” he promised to overhaul the way their fleet is managed by bringing in a “fleet consultant.”
Due to current shortages, Advance Life Support ambulances are routinely downgraded due to a lack of paramedics on duty, Ellerbe said, adding “The problem is not fixed.” A final assessment of the inventory of D.C. Fire/EMS is still 30 days from completion.
Ellerbe’s testimony comes three days after the city firefighters’ union overwhelmingly approved a resolution expressing no confidence in his leadership. When asked following his testimony whether he could guarantee no more ambulance delays in the District. Ellerbe told News4′s Mark Segraves that he could not.
D.C. Deputy Mayor Paul Quander testified Thursday that Ellerbe has “worked tirelessly.” However, Wells did not seem convinced by the testimoney, telling reporters following the hearing that he was “not satisfied” with Ellerbe’s responses, “deeply concerned with the dwindling number of paramedics,” and convinced there is a “systemic” problem with D.C. Fire and EMS management.
We have been traveling the last couple days and are glad we haven’t had to deal with the ice issues firefighters in the Midwest encountered. Here are two incidents were firefighters were hurt and very lucky that their injuries weren’t more serious.
A Dayton firefighter was struck by an out of control pickup truck on icy US Highway 35 early Tuesday morning and it was all caught on a police cruiser cam.
Dayton Police released the video of the incident saying they do not plan to file any charges in the multiple vehicle accident that left the fire captain injured.
Captain Barry Cron was on the scene where a vehicle overturned in the median. Officials said icy conditions caused the driver to lose control. While police, firefighters and medics were on the scene, more vehicles began crashing.
In the video above Dayton’s fire chief shares his reaction to the incident with WDTN-TV:
Dayton Fire Chief Herbert Redden watches as one of his own, Captain Barry Cron, is hit while responding to an accident on US 35 around 5:30 Tuesday morning.
“It looks he made an attempt here to stop the traffic and then he goes back and tries to assess the injured party. Watch when he holds his head up, boom!” explains Chief Redden.
Chief Redden says he is very lucky, “we are blessed that our Captain wasn’t seriously injured and some of the other individuals on the scene that was there, wasn’t seriously injured. Emergency service workers do dangerous work. We try to do it in as safe environment as we can.”
The video above shows what it looked like after a slab of ice flew off a vehicle and hit the windshield of a Wayne Township, Indiana fire truck on Tuesday. Firefighter Matt Ervin was injured but able to bring the fire truck to a stop. Below is dash-cam video as the ice hits. Click here for an interview with Firefighter Ervin.
“I saw a vehicle coming at us and snow and ice came off the roof and like a second later, it was in the windshield,” said Matt Ervin, who was driving the fire truck. “(The windshield) came up real close and hit me right in the forehead.”
Ervin was injured but was able to safely bring the fire truck to a stop. The driver of the pickup truck continued east on 21st Street, officials said.
Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome (SMACSS) seems to be a big problem these days. A week after exposing the tweets that resulted in the resignation from FDNY EMS of the son of Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, The New York Post is at it again. This time they confronted EMS Lt. Timothy Dluhos about a series of ”racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and anti-Asian comments” on his Twitter feed. Lt. Dluhos broke down and cried.
Susan Edelman and Candace M. Giove wrote they met up with Dluhos on Friday in front of his home. Dluhos is 34-years-old and assigned to the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. He told the reporters he was sorry and his life is ruined.
In his tweets, Dluhos referred to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as “King Jew” and “King Heeb”.
* “I’m going to give up racial insults for Lent,” he tweeted Feb. 12. “Jesus that didn’t [last] too long. F–ken chinks can’t drive.”
* “Hahaha! I work with the coloreds,” he wrote in a Feb. 8 exchange. “For 12 years so that s–t just run off on me.”
* “Too bad he didn’t have rabies or AIDS and too bad he didn’t bite King Heeb’s face off,” he tweeted on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, recalling when the groundhog Staten Island Chuck nipped Bloomberg at an event at the Staten Island Zoo.
* A gold Nazi-era pin with a German U-boat and a swastika is “my most prized artifact,” he boasted on Jan. 30.
* He repeatedly Photoshopped an image of an unnamed black teen — putting a Hitler mustache on one photo and a surgical mask on another with the caption, “I’s be a doxter.”
It comes less than a week after The Post exposed the vile racist and anti-Semitic tweets posted by Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano’s own EMT son. Joseph Cassano, 23, who quit the next day.
Yesterday, during my presentation at Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute’s Staff and Command course, there was a lively discussion (it was a very lively and enjoyable group) about the issues you will see raised in the video above. We were discussing the fact that it is somewhat of a rarity to be at a scene these days where no one is recording your actions. The issue of scene safety versus censorship came up and about the same time it was playing out live in Florida.
This involves a fly out, a videographer (MiamiImpulse) and firefighters from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. At 3:24 into the video a firefighter and captain cross the street. The firefighter makes the cut sign with his hand across his neck asking, “Can you not videotape that please?”. MiamiImpulse replies “Why?”. The firefighter says “This is personal information.” At the same time the captain approaches, telling the guy he is leaving. As the captain makes his first request for police and tells the man to turn around and walk away, the firefighter says he is not allowed to videotape this and repeats that it is personal information. Following that, the captain shifts gears and makes it a case of scene safety. The videographer notes in text that cars were driving between him and the helicopter. He refuses to leave.
What we don’t know, of course, is if anything happened before MiamiImpulse began rolling video. It appears that this is unedited video from a camera and a smart phone.
So, is this Miami-Dade Fire Rescue policy? Is this the crew’s policy? Who is right and who is wrong? Is this really a scene safety issue or is it being used to keep the man from shooting what the firefighters don’t want him to see?
My suggestion to all reading this is that you figure this issue out before a confrontation with the public. Are you clear on the legal issues? Do you know your department’s policy? Do you understand the rights of the citizens with the camera and what they can and can’t do? Do you let your personal view of what’s proper and not proper impact your decision making?
You will only be running into more and more instances where people are shooting video of you in action. Make sure you are standing on firm ground when and if you interfere with someone taking pictures. Otherwise, it can get very ugly.
The Prince George’s County Police Department’s Collision Analysis Reconstruction Unit is investigating this afternoon’s single car fatal crash in Landover. A 21-year veteran of the department was taken to the hospital with burns to his face and hands after trying to free the driver from the burning wreckage.
Preliminarily, the investigation reveals a Mercury Mountaineer was traveling westbound on MLK Highway near Whitfield Chapel Road at about 12:40 pm when it hit a guard rail just before the overpass to the Beltway. The SUV careened sideways down the roadway until it came to rest on its driver’s side on the overpass. The SUV caught fire with the driver trapped inside. Three Prince George’s County police officers quickly arrived on the scene and tried to rescue the driver. A 21-year veteran with the Intelligence Unit suffered burns to his face and hands while trying to help. The officer was taken to the hospital for treatment. A 23-year veteran patrol officer assigned to District III attempted to break the windshield but the intense flames forced him back. Despite the help of these two officers and a third patrol officer assigned to the PGPD Special Operations Division, as well as an unidentified civilian, the driver died in the fiery crash. He is identified as 70-year-old Rodwell McNeill, Jr. of the 7900 block of Dellwood Avenue in Glenarden.
A 70-year-old man was killed Monday in a single-vehicle crash in Prince George’s County, and a 21-year veteran of the Prince George’s County Police Department was hurt trying to save him.
The crash occurred at Martin Luther King Highway and Whitfield Chapel Road a little after 1 p.m. The vehicle involved in the crash caught fire, and its occupant, 70-year-old Rodwell McNeill Jr. of Glenarden, was trapped inside.
Prince George’s Police Corporal Ron Owens saw the smoke and responded. Running to help, he was the third officer to arrive on scene.
“I saw three people. It was two officers, one was a civilian, trying to break the windshield out and actually pull the guy out of the car,” Owens said.
Owens attempted to join the other officers in saving the trapped victim inside the SUV. But he and the other officers can’t save him.
“We had to back off. The one officer he had burns on his arms, his hands was all cut up, he had burns to his face just from the heat,” Owens recalled.
In video from Owens’ cruiser camera, you can see a plain clothes police lieutenant clearly in pain. Another officer poured water onto his burned hands.
The lieutenant suffered burns to his face and hands trying to save the victim.
“I’m grateful to them. I know they tried. I know they tried,” said Polly Young, McNeill’s mother-in-law. “They are heroes.”
She says her family knows the officers did all they could.
“He was a good man, he was a Christian man, he was a good husband,” Young said of her son-in-law.
A little after noon today DC Fire & EMS Department Communications Director Lon Walls sent out a notification to the news media of a 2:00 press conference to discuss recent major EMS issues saying, “Kenneth B. Ellerbe, and other public officials will hold a press briefing in front of the Department’s headquarters.” But it turned out that Chief Ellerbe was not among the scheduled speakers. He spoke only when reporters made an issue of the fact that Chief Ellerbe was just standing in the background and hadn’t said anything.
As you will see below, WUSA-TV reporter Kristin Fisher used the word ”bizarre” to describe the press conference. Having watched the whole thing live on News Channel 8, I would say Kristin’s description is probably accurate. It wasn’t just Chief Ellerbe’s diminished role at the briefing. There was the ”system worked” comment from Dr. David Miramontes, an assistant chief and the department’s medical director that you knew as you heard it would be one of the headlines of the day. And then there was the image of both the chief and the doctor wearing sunglasses in front of the TV cameras. There were so many basic rules of PR/Media Relations 101 violated by today’s event and the entire week that if someone in DC attending EMS Today was paying attention they would have enough material to teach a whole class on just this for next year’s convention.
On the plus side, Deputy Mayor Paul Quander and Deputy Fire Chief Demetrios Vlassopoulos both did a nice and clear job of defending the decision of the crew of Engine 33 to scoop up a stroke victim last night and make a run for the hospital rather than wait for an ambulance that wasn’t going to make it to the scene anytime soon. Quander was also very clear in his promise that “everyone will be held accountable” from the front lines to management in the investigation of why so many ambulances were unavailable Tuesday evening when a police officer was struck on his motorcycle.
It took three days, but the District’s fire chief finally addressed why an injured police officer had to wait almost twenty minutes for an ambulance Tuesday night. That officer is still in the hospital in serious condition after being hit by a car while stopped on his motorcycle.
The remarks came during a bizarre press conference Friday afternoon. It was held at the fire departments headquarters, so you would expect the fire chief to do most of the talking. But that wasn’t the case. Chief Kenneth Ellerbe didn’t say a word until the end of the press conference when a WUSA9 reporter asked him to address his department’s response time Tuesday night.
“I tell you our department responded as best it could,” said Chief Ellerbe.
One of his Assistant Fire Chiefs went so far as to say, “Tuesday, the system worked.”
Edward Smith, the president of city’s firefighters union, disagrees.
“There was a delay of 8 minutes calling for mutual aid from Prince George’s County. Communications should have known right off the bat that there were no units available and that mutual aid was necessary,” said Smith.
To make matters worse, a stroke patient in Southeast had to be rushed to the hospital Thursday night on a fire truck. The closest ambulance was seven miles away.
“The reason an ambulance was selected seven miles away was not because we had numerous units out of service or broken. They were just running a lot of calls yesterday during rush hour because that’s when the demand peaked,” said Gerald Coles, Acting Assistant Fire Chief for Operations for DC Fire and EMS.
In an effort to ease the demand, the fire department announced Friday an EMS Redeployment Plan, which would keep two ambulances on standby at all times.
“The plan was implemented starting yesterday,” said Chief Ellerbe.
The Chief says they’ve been working on the plan for months, and that the timing is just a coincidence. But Smith says this is the first he’s ever heard about it and that the timing is highly questionable.
“It’s a step in the right direction, but two ambulances is not enough,” said Smith.
The District’s Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, Paul Quander, has launched an investigation into Tuesday’s nights lengthy response time.
“If there is responsibility at management, at supervision, or at the lowest level, everyone will be held accountable,” said Quander.
Quander says there’s also reason to believe that the person who hit the officer did so deliberately. Three people have already been arrested and charged in the hit and run, but more charges could be coming. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier declined to talk about the case, except to say that her officer has a long recovery ahead.
District officials are defending a decision to transport a 79-year-old stroke victim to the hospital on a fire truck.
The Deputy Mayor for Public Safety says there were so many calls for service Thursday night, there were no ambulances available east of the Anacostia River.
It is a fact that does not sit well with the man’s family.
D.C. fire officials say there were plenty of ambulances to meet demand in the city until about 4:30 p.m. Thursday when 911 was overwhelmed with calls for help.
Every ambulance was in service and assigned when Ida Sheppard called to say her husband was having a stroke. A paramedic was on the scene within three minutes, but the closest ambulance was over seven miles away.
Just after 5 p.m., Sheppard called 911 to say her husband, Morrison, was in distress and needed help right away.
A few minutes later, Engine 33, which happens to be just down the street from where the Sheppards live on Atlantic Street, was in front of the house and a paramedic inside.
“They said he needs to be taken to the hospital right away,” said Ida Sheppard in an interview Friday. “We are going to take him to GW because they have a stroke unit.”
Sheppard says she was fine with that and watched as the firefighters loaded her husband into the engine.
“They had to carry him out in their arms … He couldn’t walk,” she said.
Sheppard praised the care the crew on Engine 33 gave her husband, but she finds it upsetting an ambulance was unavailable.
“I would like the mayor to know there was no ambulance,” said Sheppard. “I planned on calling him … It shouldn’t happen here in Ward 8 where we are paying income taxes and real estate taxes.”
At a Friday afternoon news conference, city officials had nothing but praise for the firefighters on Engine 33.
“We had no units out of service (for) mechanical (reasons) yesterday,” said Deputy Fire Chief Demetrios Vlassopoulos. “No transport units, ambulances or medic units. They were all serving the citizens. They were all meeting the 911 demand. This incident yesterday was a good decision by the firefighter paramedic on the scene.”
At the same news conference, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety says he was still trying to determine why there were no ambulances available earlier this week to assist a D.C. police officer seriously injured in a hit-and-run.
Tommy Wells, the head of the D.C. city council’s Judiciary Committee, says he has told the deputy mayor and the fire chief he wants answers.
“I want to know exactly what is going on,” said Wells. “Do we have a staffing shortage? Do we have a problem with not enough ambulances? So I will give the administration two weeks to do a full search, report, investigation so we can get to the bottom of it.”
Wells says he will then hold an oversight hearing in hopes of getting the issue resolved.
The deputy mayor also said Friday the fire department has put into place a plan that will hold two ambulances in reserve every shift so if one breaks down, the crew will go to the backup.
Ida Sheppard says her husband is in stable condition and resting.
Multiple neighbors shooting video yesterday afternoon as a woman was brought out through a window of a Citrus Heights, California (Sacramento County) apartment, apparently in cardiac arrest and suffering from burns. At least word she was in critical condition.
When crews arrived on scene, a firefighter broke a bedroom window of the unit on fire, entered the unit and rescued the woman trapped inside. Fong said the woman was transported to a burn unit with critical injuries.
Seven Utica firefighters and one Utica Police officer were honored on Wednesday night for rescuing a four-year-old girl from a burning building on February 22nd.
Jeff Baranowski, Brian Bova, Jessica Caulkins, Fred DeCarlo, Captain Scott Ingersoll, Marc Manno and Lt. Dominick Meyers were awarded certificates for their roles in saving Halima Haji, who lived at Adrean Terrace in east Utica.
“It happened so fast,” DeCarlo says. “When I watched [the video], I don’t remember half of it, everything crashes all in at once, you just do what you can do, what you’re trained to do.”
After taking a swipe at Charlie LeDuff’s last report, I am happy to say he seems to be back on track with a story last night on new developments in the sorry state of affairs that is Detroit EMS. According to LeDuff, both the FBI and the Michigan attorney general are looking into issues involving the delivery of emergency medical care in the troubled city. LeDuff didn’t provide much in the way of detail other than talking about a connection to Medicaid, but he does provide an interesting look at just how bad things are on the EMS side in Detroit. Take a look.
A 53-year-old man in Plano, Texas survived sudden cardiac arrest thanks to the city’s new fire chief and others. Brian Crawford, who arrived in Plano at the beginning of December after a long career in Shreveport, Louisiana, was off-duty working out at the Tom Muehlenbeck Recreation Center around 8:30 PM Wednesday night when the man collapsed. Crawford assisted Patrick McGill, a recreation center employee, who had started CPR.
A City of Plano employee alerted Crawford, and he was able to help the rec center’s employees and a Plano doctor administer CPR.
The team used one of the center’s three Automated External Defibrillators (AED) and the patron was awake and speaking with Crawford by the time Plano-Fire Rescuers arrived on the scene some five minutes later.
The patron was transferred to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Plano and is in stable condition Thursday while undergoing tests, according to a press release.
“One of the city employees who I work with, knew I was in the gym…told me someone working out had gone down actually so I came over,” Crawford said. “I’m already yelling at the staff, or anyone that will listen to me, get the AED and call 911!”
“As soon as he opened his eyes, I whispered in his ear and I said can you tell me what your name is,” Crawford said. “He told me his first name, kind of asked me what happened, asked him if he knew where he was, he said I’m at the fitness center.”
Plano Fire-Rescue Medical Director Dr. Mark Gamber credits the staff at the Muehlenbeck Center with their quick action in calling 911, performing CPR and using the AED.
“When a citizen experiences cardiac arrest, chest compression and AED use are the most important factors in saving their life,” Dr. Gamber said. “This gentleman survived thanks to the rapid action of Chief Crawford and other Plano citizens.”
Four Prince George’s County Firefighters have been taken to a hospital after a violent crash on the Capital Beltway in Landover early Wednesday morning.
According to Maryland State Police, the collision involving a fire truck, a tractor trailer, and a Jeep occurred just before 3:00 a.m. on the Inner Loop of I-495 just south of Route 50. MSP confirms the crash has sent a total of 7 patients to local hospitals by ambulance and medevac.
Chief Alicia Francis, spokeswoman for Prince George’s County Fire and Rescue, is on the scene and confirms four of the seven patients are firefighters. One of them has been taken to Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, which specializes in severe limb injuries. He is said to be in critical condition. The conditions of the other three firefighters at PG Trauma have been upgraded and may be released soon, says the chief.
According to Chief Francis, the driver of the tractor trailer and two victims from the Jeep were taken to Medstar. Right now the severity of the civilians’ injuries are unknown.
Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor is also at the scene and tells WUSA*9 reporter Delia Goncalves the crash occurred when Fire Engine 828 out of West Lanham Hills was heading back home after responding to a call. Chief Bashoor says it appears the engine was struck by the tractor trailer from behind, sending both vehicles into the concrete barrier separating the Inner and Outer Loops. This initial collision sent wreckage and concrete debris into the northbound lanes of the Beltway, where a Jeep was also caught up in the crash.
Capt. Dale Bradley said the 911 call for the fire came in at 6:59 a.m. and Squad 4 arrived five minutes later. However, it wasn’t until a second 911 call came in at 7:12 a.m. that the Fire Department was notified the upstairs was occupied. EMS was dispatched at 7:13 a.m., but Squad 4 made the decision to transport the boys themselves at 7:15 a.m.
“When it came in, it came in as a house fire,” Bradley said. “And EMS isn’t normally dispatched to a dwelling fire unless the caller indicates people are trapped inside.”
Fire officials say Medic 5, stationed road 6.2 miles away near the intersection of Joy and Southfield, was called to the fire. Two other ambulances were stationed closer to the scene, but one was responding to a caller with back pain and the other was broken down at the time.
Rescue crews were unable to save 6-year-old Michael Chavez after pulling him from the burning home.
His 4-year-old brother, Julio Chavez, is said to be in “extremely critical” condition.
Firefighters have expressed their sadness and outrage on Facebook – upset that no medic came to the house to help the boys. A source with Detroit EMS is also furious over the decisions made Tuesday morning. The source tells Local 4 that medics from a station at Joy and Southfield were called to the fire, when two other ambulances are stationed closer to the house. One of those ambulances was out on a what’s being called a “minor” run when the fire broke out, the next closest ambulance, Local 4 was told is broken down.
Both firefighters and medics are blaming Detroit’s city council and Mayor Dave Bing for allowing the city’s ambulance fleet to fall into such bad shape that ambulances’ are taken out of service and not repaired.
The boys were home alone asleep in an upstairs bedroom.
In a rare news conference, Executive Fire Commissioner Don Austin defended his team.
“First of all, when you have a cardiac arrest, you respond to the nearest, appropriate medical facility,” he said. “I don’t know the victim’s status. Most people die from a fire not from burns, but from smoke inhalation.”
“Squad Four immediately started CPR, loaded them into their squad vehicle,” Austin added.
“We’re the only city in the state that does not respond an EMS rig to every single fire,” said retired EMS worker Mike O’Neill.
With more than 130,000 calls a year and ten to twelve working units at any given time, it’s no secret the resources are limited. Commissioner Austin says Detroiters are getting the best coverage available, but sometimes the best just isn’t good enough.
IAFF Local 36 reports on Twitter that DC Fire & EMS Department Ambulance 25 was struck by this vehicle arpund 2:00 this afternoon at 13th Street and Southern Avenue, Southeast adjacent to United Medical Center. The vehicle in the picture overturned and caught fire. The driver is reported dead. Two firefighters aboard Ambulance 25 were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Nearly two hours after the accident, authorities were unable to confirm many details. A D.C. police spokesman said there was a “possible fatality.” Lon Walls, the communication director for the D.C. Fire Department, said a battalion chief at the scene reported one death.
Walls said a car struck an ambulance that was stopped at a red light. Two paramedics were taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries, according to Walls; the car that hit their ambulance overturned and burst into flames, officials said.
A child who was trapped in one of the cars, police said, but was pulled out.
Authorities shut down both directions of I-275 after 18 commercial vehicles, including four tractor-trailers that jackknifed, were involved in a crash on westbound I-275 at Colerain Avenue at about 11:30 a.m.
Officials also said at least four of those injured in the crash are listed in critical condition.
The first crews on the scene used the jaws of life to free four people from three separate cars.
Several passenger vehicles were trapped underneath multiple semi trucks when paramedics arrived at the scene, according to officials.
Officials also said that a steel cable that ended up in the middle of the roadway that is usually used to stop cars from crossing the median made a bad situation worse after the initial few collisions.