Family Wants D.C. Firefighters Who Didn't Help Fired

"He just leaned up against the fire engine with his arms folded the entire time. I can't get that image out of my head," said Marie Mills, whose father died.


WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The family of a man who died after D.C. firefighters allegedly refused to treat him held a press conference with their attorney on Thursday morning.

The family of Medric Cecil Mills, Jr. and their attorney, Karen E. Evans of The Cochran Firm, D.C., held the conference to bring attention to "the unconscionable treatment of the 77-year-old Washington, D.C. resident and longtime employee of the Department of Parks and Recreation," according to the firm.

The conference took place at the Brentwood Village Shopping Center on Rhode Island Avenue NE, the scene where Mills collapsed.

Medric Cecil Mills' daughter, Marie, talked to WUSA 9 last week. She said her father suffered from a massive heart attack on the sidewalk right across the street from a fire house on Rhode Island Avenue NE following failed attempts to get firefighters to help. Marie Mills says they were visiting a computer shop when her father collapsed.

"I stood on that corner and cried, 'Please help my dad. Please don't let my dad die.' When he wasn't getting up, my reaction was to go be with my dad," Marie Mills said last week.

When she begged a firefighter to come help she got no response, she said.

"He just leaned up against the fire engine with his arms folded the entire time. I can't get that image out of my head," said Mills.

Strangers ran across the street to the fire house multiple times, but were told various excuses and that they needed to call 911, which they had.

Thursday, the family called for the District of Columbia Fire and EMS employees who were involved in the mishandling of Mills' medical emergency to be fired. They also asked for changes in the law that protect D.C.'s government agencies from civil accountability as well as encouraged others to speak out against poor treatment.

"We have been profoundly shocked by the manner of his passing," said Medric Mills III, Medric's son in a written statement. "It is extremely painful to think that my dad could still be with us if he had been given the proper care by firefighters when he suffered a medical emergency. When my dad suffered a heart attack, there were firefighters in that station across the street. He was in clear medical distress. Bystanders were screaming for help. Firefighters are provided training to respond to medical emergencies. But when a medical emergency happened right on their doorstep, they ignored us."

"The ambulance dispatchers sent to the scene when we first called went to the wrong address. You ought to know your city," Mills III said. "When a bystander shouted for help, the fire station employee just leaned against the fire truck. It was unbelievable."

Marie Mills claims minutes passed before a nearby police officer waved down an ambulance that was passing by the scene. The family later found out that Medric "Cecil" Mills was pronounced dead at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

"The D.C. Fire and EMS Department has proven that it cannot hold itself to an acceptable standard on its own," Marie Mills said in a written statement. "There must be accountability. When D.C. residents are suffering life threatening medical emergencies directly in front of fire stations and do not receive help, serious reform is needed. There must be change. We do not want this story to be swept away and forgotten by the public."

Attorney Karen E. Evans said the firefighters had a moral and ethical obligation to help Mills."They had EMS rescue equipment at that fire station, and they could have used a defibrillator on him," Evans said. "How could a firefighter see a man in medical distress lying on the ground and not run to help him? What's shocking is there seems to be a growing pattern of apathy for people who are in dire need of emergency care."

Evans outlined what she calls a "pattern of negligent and poor treatment by D.C. emergency services." In 2010, Andre Rudder pounded on Engine 7 fire station's door because he was suffering chest pains, but an emergency medical technician did not help him and turned him away. Rudder died outside the fire station. A wrongful death case, Moses v. District of Columbia Government, was dismissed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in September 2010.

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