Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Recent death from failure of DC FEMS personnel to act

Image: Fox5.

There has been a lot of coverage of the recent event where a man collapsed--ultimately to die of a heart attack--and passersby went to the nearby fire station which was just across the street!--but station personnel failed to respond.

At first, I was inclined to "blame" the probationary fire fighter, because early reports seemed to indicate the failure was on him and the Post later reported ("Aftermath of 77-year-old's death brings focus to D.C. fire cadet program") that he had showed behavioral issues during his training.

But the investigation of the incident as reported by the Post ("Report on death of man outside D.C. fire station: Five firefighters should be disciplined") seems to indicate that the probationary officer did what he was supposed to do, which was to follow the chain of command and report the situation to the station chief (lieutenant) and wait for orders.  While the headline says all five firefighters should be disciplined, I'd argue the real problem was that the lieutenant and the three experienced fire fighters failed to act ("D.C. fire lieutenant, firefighter put on leave amid investigation into reported neglect").

While the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety says that this isn't the fault of the Chief, who has been under attack for awhile, but this failure of four well-trained personnel to act is an indicator of system failure of major proportions, which is why Councilmember Wells (also a candidate for mayor) has called for the firing of the Department Chief and the Deputy Mayor ("Tommy Wells calls for resignations of deputy mayor, fire chief after high-profile hearing").

We know this is hardly the first time that people have died because of DC EMS failures, e.g., see "Fire and emergency services (in DC)," "Fire department issues in municipalities," and "Rationalizing fire and emergency services."

Awhile ago, I suggested that the department needs to go through a "business process redesign" initiative ("DC "fire" department continued") as a way to reboot, rebuild, reposition, and rebrand.

WRT the provision of emergency services, I thought that I wrote about the King County (Seattle) Medic One service as a best practice model to consider and that in DC the EMS function should be split off from the fire department, because 30+ years of experience has proven it is beyond the capability of the department as it is currently structured to manage both services.

-- Medic One/EMS 2008-2013 Strategic Plan -- because the program is funded through a property tax, they do more outreach and planning to justify passage
-- 2014-2019 Medic One/EMS levy planning process
-- Center for the Evaluation of Emergency Medical Services (CEEMS)

In the current issue of Government Computer News, there is an article, "Cities on the Sidelines," about using data analytics for "public service turnarounds."  One of the examples is how the Wake County, NC EMS has changed certain practices based on an analysis of all their responses to cardiac arrest calls over an 8 year period.  Based on this review they are extending reviews to other areas.

That's another way to begin a rebooting of DC's EMS services.

But one is clearly needed.  And has been for quite some time.

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