WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Kevin Baker said he is seething about the 911 and EMS delays that the family says may have cost his brother’s life late last month.
Bernard Baker Jr.’s family is demanding answers while District officials say they are still investigating the delays in the 911 call center for answering the phone and a belief that the paramedics lacked urgency once they arrived.
“We need accountability,” said Kevin Baker, one of Baker Jr.’s younger brothers. “Someone needs to stand up and take accountability for the actions of us losing somebody.”
Kevin Baker said he’s disappointed in the lack of response from District officials, too.
“It’s deeply, deeply, deeply irritating and basically someone needs to take action to do the necessary things to bring peace to the family,” he said.
Both Fire and EMS and the Office of Unified Communications officials said they are probing the circumstances leading up to Baker Jr.’s death on April 30 of what the family claims was likely a cardia arrest at the family home.
DC News Now obtained a video that showed paramedics who arrived on scene at 3:33 a.m. one-by-one walked casually into the home – a point that angered family members.
But district officials have said that the 911 call center has a 20 percent vacancy rate and that it’s been difficult recruiting people for the arduous job of fielding emergency response calls.
When asked about whether the 911 call center has a serious worker shortage and how that could lead to delays in answering calls, Mayor Muriel Bowser said, “I don’t have the specifics on that, so I’d like to get back to you.”
But City Councilwoman Brooke Pinto, who is head of the judiciary and public safety committee, said a prompt response from 911 and EMS is critical to keeping the public trust.
“When someone calls 911 for a life-threatening emergent situation, we expect an emergent and urgent response from all of our first responders,” Pinto said. “It’s broader than just the call takers but also into FEMS (Fire and Emergency Medical Services) to see what was going on and if any mistakes were made.”
Pinto said she supports a full investigation.
“My heart is broken for this family who has lost a life,” she said. “And it is very important that the incident be investigated.”
Baker said the lack of speed in his mind cost his brother his life.
“Once I watched the video and seen how lazy they were… they weren’t trying to get there fast,” he said. “They weren’t moving.”