D.C. EMS Faces Review in Tragic Death of 2 Year Old Girl

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From a report in today’s Washington Post, we learn that in the District of Columbia last month, a two-year-old girl died after suffering from apparent breathing problems. While the unfortunate death of a toddler is tragic enough as it is, it turns out that the death may have been preventable. The family of the little girl called paramedics, who promptly came to the house to evaluate the girl. Unfortunately, the paramedics made the decision not to take the girl to a hospital:

Emergency responders went to the 800 block of Southern Avenue SE shortly before 5 a.m. on Feb. 10, department spokesman Pete Piringer said. Paramedics arrived minutes later, and the toddler was evaluated but not taken to a hospital, Piringer said.

About nine hours later, the family called the paramedics again because of the little girl’s ongoing breathing problems. Unfortunately, it was too late. Although the paramedics came out and took the child to Children’s National Medical Center, she tragically died the next day.

As a result of this incident, several emergency workers who initially responded to the family’s call for help have been placed on administrative leave while the D.C Fire and Emergency Medical Services conducts a review of the incident.

This is not the first time the department has faced criticism for such conduct. In December 2008, paramedics responded to the home of a man complaining of chest pains and decided not to take him to a hospital. The man died of a heart attack several hours later. In 2006, a New York Times reporter was mugged and beaten. Assuming that he was drunk, paramedics did not take him to a hospital; the man later died.

We look forward to learning the results of the EMS investigation and trust that if any deficiencies are found, the EMS will make the necessary changes in training and/or personnel so that such unfortunate events do not take place again.

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