The investigation continues into a case that has sparked outrage, the tragic death of life-long Washington D.C. resident and dedicated district employee, Medric “Cecil” Mills Jr.
Recently, Lieutenant Kellene Davis submitted retirement papers after being accused of standing by after repeated pleas for help to assist 77-year-old Cecil Mills who had collapsed and suffered a heart attack in a shopping center directly across the street from the firehouse. Earlier, Lt. Davis was relieved of her command of Ladder 15 and placed on desk duty, but not suspended.
According to reports by WTTG Fox 5, Mr. Mills was in the shopping center parking lot with his daughter, Marie Mills, when he was hit with a massive heart attack. Several strangers ran across the street to the neighboring firehouse to get help. But their calls for medical assistance went unanswered. Ms. Mills told the station, “[The firefighter] said something about his lieutenant and some type of authorization and that he could not come. That we needed to re-call dispatch and advise them that they needed to send somebody and if the condition of the patient could be getting worse. When I saw that my dad was having shallow breaths, I ran to the curb and started screaming and begging for him to come and help my father.”
Calls were made to 911 and even when emergency services were dispatched, they were directed to the wrong quadrant of the district, 26 blocks away, to Northwest rather than Northeast Rhode Island Avenue. Witnesses said it took anywhere from 9-15 minutes before help arrived.
While the department has had issues with equipment shortages in the past, Ladder 15 had five firefighters on duty who were trained as emergency medical technicians and they had the equipment they needed to help Cecil Mills in his condition. The firefighters union said the protocol is to alert the entire firehouse by ringing a bell then they should have ran across to the street to administer help.
A probationary fire fighter was the one that heard the pleas and it is being said that the rookie was too intent on following what he thought was protocol. Mayor Vincent Gray spoke strongly saying, “Who in the world would is going to punish somebody for having violated protocol but you save somebody’s life in the process? I’m not buying that.” He said that common sense should have took over and asserted, “For those who failed to respond as they should, they will be held accountable. Period.”
Firefighters union president Ed Smith, issued this statement: “This just shouldn't have happened. We need to find out why it did occur and make sure it never happens again. On behalf of the DC Firefighters Association, I offer Mr. Mills' family a sincere apology.”
Mayor Gray and Ed Smith personally called Marie Mills to offer apologies.
According to WTTG, the firehouse has been receiving threatening phone calls, which were described as death threats. So far the Washington D.C. fire chief has not commented on the incident at all, reportedly to avoid influencing the ongoing investigation. Results are expected at the end of this week, or early next week.
Cecil Mills’ family has hired legal representation and will be holding a news conference later this week.
Cecil Mills worked for the DC government for 47 years and was still employed by the Department of Parks and Recreation when he passed away. His daughter emotionally said, “That’s how much he loved the Department of Parks and Recreation in his city and he died in the city that did nothing to help him.”