D.C. admits closer paramedic could have aided choking toddler

WASHINGTON – D.C. officials say that a paramedic who was closer to a choking toddler was not logged in and dispatchers didn’t know the crew was available.

The young boy was hospitalized after choking on a grape Friday. Fox 5 first reported that dispatchers sent help from a fire station that was more than a mile away even though a paramedic was on duty just three blocks away.

“There might have been, essentially, human error or a typographical error that resulted in the right equipment not being logged in correctly and thus not being dispatched,” says Michael Czin, the communications director for Mayor Muriel Bowser.

The Office of Unified Communications, which runs dispatch, on Tuesday released a statement saying, in part, that there was a closer unit with a paramedic.

However, that unit had not properly logged into the dispatch system, making it unavailable to respond to a call.

The OUC also reports it only received one call from the location of the incident. Three other calls came in from people not at the site on Warren Street NW.

According to its records, all 911 calls were answered within five seconds.

First responders arrived about 7 minutes after the call was dispatched, according to the call log.

Fox 5 first reported that the boy’s sister tried calling 911 but that no one answered. Eventually a house guest was able to get through.

The missed paramedic is the latest in a series of incidents that have called into question whether D.C. has the staffing and equipment to adequately respond to daily emergencies in the city.

A new fire chief is expected to take over the embattled fire and EMS department in May. Bowser named Gregory Dean, former fire chief in Seattle, as her pick earlier this month.

WTOP’s Andrew Mollenbeck contributed to this report.

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