Man dies after D.C. fire truck responds to wrong scene

WASHINGTON — In the latest of a series of mistakes that have plagued D.C.’s emergency responders, a man died Sunday of a heart attack after a misunderstanding where a fire truck called to his house stopped at the wrong scene.

Albert Jackson, 67, went into cardiac arrest at his house in Northeast just before 4 p.m. Sunday. His family began CPR and called 911, Fox 5 reports.

Truck 17 arrived at Jackson’s house on 60th Street at 4:02 p.m. — about five or six minutes after the call, Fox 5 says. The Washington Post says the truck was based about a mile and a half away.

Fire department spokesman Timothy J. Wilson tells The Post that the firefighters arrived to see police with “what they presumed to be their patient on the ground” on the street near the house.

“When they saw the patient didn’t need medical care, they went back to their quarters,” Wilson said.

Fox 5 says the firefighters were told by the police that medical assistance wasn’t required.

But Wilson tells The Post, “they had assumed the call they saw was the call they were on” — for Jackson’s heart attack.

“That was not the actual call,” he said.

An ambulance and another fire truck were on the way, The Post reports. But when Truck 17 told dispatch that Metropolitan police were “on scene. They are not needed,” the other fire personnel were effectively waved off.

Jackson’s family had to call 911 again. An ambulance and fire truck were dispatched, and got there at 4:16 p.m. — about 19 minutes after the original call, Fox 5 estimates.

Jackson was taken to a hospital, but died there.

Asked whether a faster response would have saved her husband’s life, Gloria Jackson told Fox 5, “Maybe. I’m not sure. I’ll say maybe.”

D.C. Fire Chief Gregory Dean expressed condolences to the family in a statement, and added, “Going forward, the Department will require units to repeat the address to the dispatcher upon their arrival at a scene to ensure they are at the correct location.”

The department and the Office of Unified Communications also “are working to incorporate clear language so that responding units have more information on the type of call they are being dispatched to,” the statement adds.

See a report from Fox 5:

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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