D.C. emergency services failed to implement safety recommendations from eight years ago

D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services have not fully implemented more than half of the safety protocols recommended almost a decade ago, an auditor’s report found Thursday.

Former mayor Adrian Fenty created the Rosenbaum Task Force in 2007 in response to the 2006 death of New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum, who was mugged and severely injured. D.C. emergency services mistook him as drunk and failed to prioritize his treatment, which resulted him in succumbing to his injuries. The committee listed 36 safety recommendations for D.C.’s Fire and EMS, Department of Health and other related agencies.

Only 11 of the recommendations have been implemented since that time. 15 of the goals have not been accomplished and the other remaining suggestions were either partially done or rescinded after their completion, according to the report from D.C. Auditor Kathleen Patterson.

“We found that the District’s overall implementation on the recommendations on the Task Force on EMS report is incomplete,” Patterson said in the report.

A major recommendation not addressed was that EMS and fire workers receive at least basic training to be able to respond to situations in both fields, allowing the two agencies to overlap their duties in a case of emergency. The auditor’s report cited FEMS hiring 23 employees to only work in a single field, violating the organization’s policy.

The task force also suggested that emergency responders transport uninjured intoxicated people to sobering facilities for treatment, a goal that has not yet been addressed. The audit found no such facilities in D.C. which means emergency transporters must take intoxicated individuals to hospitals.

Acting DCFEMS Chief Gregory Dean responded to the audit Thursday, saying the agency is “hard at work” trying to implement the recommendations. He said his organization has increased the number of ambulances available during peak hours and created new management positions to like a new assistant chief of EMS and a new medical director.

“I am committed to taking a collaborative approach, with the broader community and the council to achieve our goal of providing the highest quality of professional and compassionate pre-hospital care to people who need it,” Dean said in the statement.

The D.C. audit office launched the investigation in February after a string of incidents drew attention to the emergency agency. A woman died and more than 80 Metro passengers were hospitalized after their Metro car filled with smoke shortly after leaving the L’Enfant Plaza station, and the family of a D.C. man who died last year after collapsing across the street from a fire house filed a lawsuit against the local government for wrongful death earlier this month

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