Tommy Wells responds to paramedic's concerns of 'dire situation' - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Tommy Wells responds to paramedic's concerns of 'dire situation'

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The paramedic who wrote a letter to the D.C. City council warning lawmakers of a "dire situation" in the district has received a reply from the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Tommy Wells thanked the paramedic for his service and agreed with his concerns.

Telling Jon Botwin he would continue to press the mayor to improved emergency medical services and fill critical vacancies.

Jon Botwin wrote his letter to the council this week after failing to save the life of a five month old girl.

The paramedic was infuriated after learning two units closer to the girl’s apartment on north capitol street were "downgraded" or left staffed without a paramedic last Thursday when he responded to the call.

It was at five past two last Thursday afternoon when Phillip Bolden called 911 to say his daughter Zariah was not breathing.

According to D.C. Fire and EMS an engine with EMT's arrived three minutes later.

But it took Engine 26, with Jon Botwin on board and EMS 7 eight minutes to get there through heavy city traffic, coming from a station more than two miles away.

Bolden says he sat in the ambulance and watched the paramedics work on the baby feeling helpless.

"I asked what was taking so long and they said they were trying to get the IV's together, they were trying to get her stable", Bolden said.

Their work paid off--the baby's pulse returned but she passed away at Children’s Hospital two days later.

D.C. fire officials defend their response to the call but as Botwin points out two closer units, engine three on New Jersey Avenue and medic two on F Street were left without paramedics that day.

In his letter to the council Botwin warns the council members the city is in danger and writes, "I can't stress how real this is".

In his response to Botwin, Tommy Wells writes in part,

“I agree with you that there has been one inexcusable catastrophe after another, from slow ambulatory responses for an injured police officer, to equipment breaking down and catching fire. More has to be done to turn around the dysfunction seen in our Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. Your concerns over paramedic downgrades…demand the full attention of the Mayor, our city's executive.”

Jon Botwin also told council members the few paramedics remaining are frustrated and burning out.

D.C. Police say there was no trauma to the body of the baby and the cause and manner of death is still undetermined.

Philip Bolden was in tears when FOX 5 showed him Botwin’s letter to the council.

He doesn't know if a quicker response could have saved his baby but he wonders, what if.

As FOX 5 has reported for months now the fire department is unable to staff numerous paramedic positions in the city on a daily basis although just last week the fire chief announced nine new hires who will have to go through training before hitting the streets.

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