D.C. Fire Chief Says Firefighters Should Have Helped Dying Man

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D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe (Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe (Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — The District of Columbia’s fire chief says that firefighters should have helped a man who collapsed and died across the street from a fire station last month.

D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe told WNEW Senior Correspondent Mark Segraves on Wednesday that he personally knew 77-year-old Medric “Cecil” Mills, a longtime city employee who went into cardiac arrest across the street from a city fire station on Jan. 25 and later died. Mills’ relatives say several people went across the street to the station, located on Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast, but no firefighters or emergency medical workers walked over to help.

“There is nothing in our protocol that would prevent an employee from rendering aid to a person who needs [it],” Ellerbe said in the Channel 4 interview Wednesday. “Everyone who puts on the uniform takes an oath and is required to respond when called.”

Ellerbe confirmed Wednesday that the officer in charge of the fire company that didn’t offer immediate aid, 30-year veteran Lt. Kellene Davis, has applied for retirement. Davis and a second firefighter were put on paid leave following the incident, and a third firefighter — a rookie — has been reassigned.

Details about who was told about Mills’ condition and when are still being sorted out through an investigation. Ellerbe said he can’t comment on the investigation, but maintained that retirement won’t protect Davis from any discipline she could face as a result of the investigation.

“There’s a lot of accountability that is still out there regarding this incident and we are going to take a very hard look at it and a very fair look at what happened, then deal with it,” Ellerbe told Channel 4. “Nobody is going to run away from this and people will be held accountable.”

The fire department has faced intense criticism since the incident that Ellerbe called a “setback.”

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray called the incident “an outrage.” He says “people will be held accountable” and those involved failed to show “common decency.”

Ellerbe says he expects the department’s investigation to wrap up in the next few days.

WNEW Senior Correspondent Mark Segraves contributed to this report. Follow Mark on Twitter.

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