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.
TV station reports FBI & MI attorney general investigating Detroit EMS. Charlie LeDuff back on track.27 comments
TV’s LeDuff says Detroit medic punished for giving blanket to homeless man. Reporter thinks it’s time to clean out headquarters.25 comments
Ladies and gentlemen, this might be the most ridiculous and bone-headed Detroit ambulance story yet. It started two weeks ago when a house caught on fire. An old cripple man lived inside. They brought him outside. He was in his underwear. It was cold. He was shivering. You give him a blanket, right? Right. Then guess what happened?
“I’m being punished for giving a man a blanket,” said paramedic Jeff Gaglio.
Who’s punishing him?
“The chief of EMS Jerald James.”
“We can’t have an employee who feels that they have a right to give away state property, be it donated, be it a blanket, be it a tire off a vehicle, without getting prior approval from somebody or notifying the proper authority. This is what he did,” James said by phone.
We’re going to let old cripple guys shiver to death. We’re going to take much needed paramedics off the street. I think what the fire department should do is point those hoses right at headquarters and clean the whole joint out.
UPDATE: Detroit Deputy Fire Commissioner Fred Wheeler gone. Mayor Dave Bing swings axe after confrontation with reporter Charlie LeDuff. Commisioner Austin answers the questions Wheeler wouldn’t.14 comments
UPDATE Thursday evening:
Fred Wheeler would still be a deputy fire commissioner in Detroit if he bothered to answer reporter Charlie LeDuff’s questions on Tuesday about raw sewage in firehouses the way Commissioner Don Austin did on Thursday. Instead Wheeler was fired by Mayor Dave Bing after his expletive filled tirade at LeDuff.
“What you need to understand is that the average age of the fire station buildings in this city is 80 years old. … You can’t fix years of neglect overnight, and everybody has just got to understand it because it’s not rocket science to understand that. So, to try and cast a light like the city’s incompetent, the city is not doing it’s job, we’re doing the very best we can in a very difficult situation, and it’s deplorable to have people that do the hard work that the firefighters and EMT do living in a building that is below anyone’s standard. So what I can do is to figure out where can we move companies until we can get these problems repaired.”
There has been a long history between WJBK-TV reporter Charlie LeDuff and Detroit Fire Department Deputy Commissioner Fred Wheeler. Their numerous TV appearances together, with the reporter trying to get the deputy commissioner to stand still for an interview, are in the links above beginning with the most recent first.
It appears there will be no more of these confrontations. Mayor Dave Bing issued a statement earlier today that he has “unappointed” the deputy commissioner after Wheeler cussed out the reporter and slapped down LeDuff’s microphone during an ambush interview on Tuesday.
My administration has investigated the incident between Deputy Fire Commissioner Fred Wheeler and Fox2 reporter Charlie LeDuff. We have a code of conduct for our appointees and we determined the Deputy Fire Commissioner violated that code in this unfortunate incident. Mr. Wheeler has been unappointed, effective immediately.
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WJBK-TV's Charlie LeDuff is starting 2012 with an interesting bit of video from an EMS crew in Detroit. The Detroit Fire Department ambulance they were in broke down and they were stranded as the new year was being celebrated with gunfire. Sitting in the ambulance waiting, they pulled out their cameras and provided a little narration.
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Charlie LeDuff finally sits down with a fire commissioner who doesn’t run from him. Retired LAFD Assistant Chief Donald Austin takes over in Detroit on Monday.5 comments
Donald Austin needs to always keep what happened to him yesterday in mind once he takes over as the commissioner of the troubled Detroit Fire Department. Friday was the day the Detroit native, who retired in February as an assistant chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department, sat down with TV reporter Charlie LeDuff, the man two previous fire commissioners constantly ran from. And the fact that the former commissioners never understood how to handle LeDuff is one of the reasons Chief Austin has this new job.
What Chief Austin needs to remember is the demeanor, candor and poise he showed in the video above. Bottle it. You will need it.
A Dennis Walus photo of Detroit firefighters in action at a house fire on Tuesday. While LeDuff stays on the commissioners, Walus is out there, camera in hand, showing the daily work of Detroit firefighters. Click here for Dennis' photos.
The new commissioner will likely have a brief honeymoon with LeDuff and the rest of the press after he takes over the department on Monday. But it won't be long before LeDuff comes calling again with some internal document in his hand or video of a new scandal or serious problem. Chief Austin will do the department a world of good by handling the bad news exactly as he handled this interview, including the sense of humor he showed at the end of the clip.
And if Chief Austin really wants to minimize the impact of some future scandal he shouldn't wait until LeDuff shows up demanding to talk to the commissioner. In fact, it should be the other way around. When bad news strikes, the commissioner should be the one demanding to talk to LeDuff and other reporters, providing all of the gory details. Furthermore, if the chief really wants to tame LeDuff a bit, he should immediately dump a pile of paperwork on the reporter. Let Charlie see the entire paper trail showing what happened to the money to fix crumbling firehouses or maintain the city's ambulances. Get it all out so the problems of the past are truly that and they don't become the problems of the future for the new commissioner to constantly deal with.
I imagine that Charlie gave his cell phone number to Chief Austin yesterday. Memorize that number chief and use it often. It can be an important tool in changing the image and perception of the Detroit Fire Department.
Charlie LeDuff finally catches up with Detroit’s Fire Commissioner. Fred Wheeler gives the reporter the silent treatment.9 comments
Detroit & how to deal with the Charlie LeDuff's of the world will be part of the discussion in Room 125-126 on Thursday at 1:30 PM at FDIC.
I ask this week as I asked last week, when will they learn? Charlie LeDuff isn't going away. And either are the Detroit Fire Department's image problems if this is how they deal with the bad news.
It doesn't matter that you don't like Charlie LeDuff or any other reporter. A public official refusing to talk to reporters who have questions about legitimate stories is only asking to be ambushed. That's exactly what happened to Commissioner Fred Wheeler.
A public official who then gives that reporter the silent treatment while the reporter and a photographer are chasing after him down the street isn't going to look very good on television. That is also what happened to Commissioner Wheeler.
LeDuff wants answers about another broken down ambulance on an emergency call and information on whether Commissioner Wheeler is meeting the city's residency requirements for appointed officials.
If Commissioner Wheeler and anyone else guiding how the city responds to bad news hasn't figured it out yet, Charlie LeDuff probably isn't going away. The same old tactics for dealing with LeDuff aren't working. What was Einstein's quote about insanity?
Part of turning Detroit's major problems around is winning over the hearts and minds of the public and letting them know it is no longer business as usual. Stories like this don't give you much confidence that anything is really different.
If they can't get rid of LeDuff, someone better figure out how to deal with him. Here's a suggested start: answer the man's questions honestly and openly.
The latest from Detroit: Paramedic crew taken off the streets after slow response. Reporter Charlie LeDuff says delay happened before ambulance got the call.6 comments
WJBK-TV’s Charlie LeDuff is at it again with his brand of advocacy journalism. The reporter is on a mission pushing for drastic improvements in the delivery of EMS in Detroit. Lately, LeDuff is making the case that the administration targets paramedics speaking out to the press about working conditions.
In this latest story, a delayed response to provide aid to a dying man is being investigated. LeDuff reports the paramedics have been assigned to desk duty during the investigation. Here are excerpts from the story and the reporter’s interview with medic Michael O’Neill:
LeDuff: How far where you away from that house when you got the call?
O’Neill: My station is Calvert and Linwood, so we’re saying about five miles.
LeDuff: How long did it take you to get there once you got the call?
O’Neill: According to what we’re told downtown seven minutes … once we got the call.
LeDuff: And the lady, it was 20, 25 minutes from the first time she called?
O’Neill: That’s correct.
LeDuff: So, how are you to blame?
O’Neill: Sir, that I cannot tell you.
Paramedics have said they are the scapegoats for exposing department incompetence and management that does not have a clue.
“The deal is the management retaliates against anybody that brings the truth to the public,” said Wisam Zaneih, president of Detroit EMS Association.
So, LeDuff called the fire commissioner’s office yet again, but this time he got a human being. Chief Jerald James of EMS said it is not a punitive action. They just want to get to the bottom of things. Don’t we all?
Below is a LeDuff Detroit EMS story that Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz posted earlier this month.
Paramedics testify the were disciplined for telling the truth about Detroit EMS to TV crew. Wisam Zeineh & Richard Cadoura say they are whistleblowers. Watch the story that got them in trouble.9 comments
A report that aired on WJBK-TV resulted in discipline for two Detroit paramedics. The pair, Wisam Zeineh and Richard Cadoura, told the Detroit City Council last night the Detroit Fire Department piled charges on top of relatively minor infractions that the video showed when reporter/columnist Charlie LeDuff rode around with the crew. Zeineh and Cadoura say they are whistleblowers and the charges really stem from them speaking the truth about the state of EMS in Detroit.
Zeineh got in trouble for smoking.
“They didn’t charge me with violating the smoking policy. They charged me with neglect of duty, wanton and willful neglect of my duty as a paramedic to protect the public by smoking a cigarette,” he said.
“I’ve been disciplined with not having my shirt tucked in. One of the charges that I received was prior to coming on to duty when I was on my own personal time,” said Cadoura.
A lawyer for the city cautioned council members to limit their discussion about the EMS workers complaints because of possible legal implications.
Council members listened to the paramedics, but did not comment on their accusations.
Asked for comment, FOX 2 received no immediate response from Detroit’s fire commissioner.
Below is the story that got the paramedics in trouble.