Technology as Cover-up
The Washington Post reports that the city released a scathing review this week on the choking death of Â a 13-month old infant after the closest unit failed to respond.
Thanks to the apparently faulty rollout of a dime-store solution to GPS tracking, the communications center had inaccurate information regarding who was available and closest.
Engine and Medic 31 were dispatched to a call right around the corner from Engine 20.
Once again, the techno-glitch provides a perfect opportunity to divert attention away from the real issue: a substantial portion of DCFD members are guilty of failing to protect the people who live and work here.
The Post is right, it’s Medric Mills all over again.
In that case, communications also got the quadrant wrong, dispatching the wrong companies to an address miles away.
But, Mills collapsed right across the street from Engine 26/Truck 15, what would be a fortuitous circumstance in most places.
Not in DC.
Members not only failed to respond after repeated citizen requests, they refused to.
A perfectly reasonable conclusion: Â They don’t give a shit.
Taking a Hard Pass
No one really knows how many units “take a soft pass” on responding to an EMS call because they are flying under the radar.
They hear it, they’re close enough to make a difference but they pass.
Effective GPS tracking would help to eliminate that by taking the discretion away from officers who can pick and choose which calls they will respond to.
The March incident was a “hard pass.”
Engine 20 was apparently dispatched after all, then cancelled and failed to take in the incident even when they knew they were closer.
The computer told them not to.
From the Post, “the report also says the lieutenant failed to correct dispatch after his units were dispatched then canceled, even though he could have reached the child faster. Questioned later, the lieutenant told investigators that after someone complained, he replied, â€œI donâ€™t put the calls out.â€
It’s a complete and total abrogation of ethical and moral leadership.
A Culture in Decay
People revere firefighters in part because they will figure it out, Â see through the BS, get it done.
Not in DC where any excuse is a good one.
Edward C. Smith, president of the firefighters union, said, “This starts and stops with the crappy rollout of this technology…â€
Assuming he knows that Engine 20 took a pass, his comment is irresponsible.
It’s even more amazing as Smith works on a rescue company where operational tasks are often difficult.
Smith’s comment is tantamount to giving up on forcible entry since they didn’t present you with the key.
(And, one is given to wondering if Kentland E-331 would have taken a pass, too.)
Broken technology is much easier to repair than broken culture.
Our culture is inextricably linked to who we are, our values, our commitment, our sense of duty.
In the DCFD the culture is proven to be both diseased and destructive.
But, as always, there are bright spots, in this case, two.
The DCFD member or members who spoke up and the Post for shining the light.
Good on ya, mates.