The EPA and a seven-minute ambulance delay

Wednesday shootout on the streets of Washington Highlands left a cop injured and a carjacking suspect dead. But before the suspect expired, he went on an unusual ambulance ride that involved moving him from one vehicle to another on the shoulder of Interstate 295. While this might appear to be another story of Fire and Emergency Medical Services dysfunction, the story is rather more complicated. As WUSA-TV explains, newer-model diesel engines are required by federal regulations to have emission-control features that, in some circumstances, require the motor to shut down for “regeneration” — a process in which the exhaust system burns off trapped soot. The need for regeneration can be unpredictable, and there have been calls in recent years to exempt emergency response vehicles from the federal requirements. Deputy Chief John Donnelly told Channel 9, “We’re not in a position to fight the EPA regulations, and we’re not even going to try.” The transfer to a second ambulance delayed 34-year-old Nathaniel McRae’s arrival at a hospital by seven minutes; FEMS insists the wait did not play a role in his death.

[Update, 7:50 p.m.: The Environmental Protection Agency last year modified its diesel emission regulations to specifically exempt emergency vehicles, though some equipment purchased prior to the change has not been retrofitted to avoid service interrupt. Furthermore, an EPA spokeswoman provided this statement: "A properly working and maintained vehicle should not shut down without adequate warning, and pollution control equipment does not have this general impact – as evidenced by the millions of vehicles on the road that have been operating with this technology for years."]

In other news:

Ginnie Cooper bids a slow adieu: “I’m going to read romance novels and eat bonbons” (PostDCist)

Police could close shops trafficking in stolen goods under Tommy Wells proposal (PostWRC-TVWAMU-FM)

With 10 months until scheduled date, it’s still completely unclear when the primary election will happen (PostWAMU-FM)

Ahead of Coast Guard headquarters opening, ground is broken on St. Elizabeths “gateway pavilion” (WBJWRC-TVExaminerWUSA-TVWJLA-TVDCist)

Despite all the “boomtown” talk, “we’re becoming less dependent on the feds than ever” (Housing Complex)

So far, sequestration impact of regional economy has been minimal (Post)

District Secretary is among those opposing Vincent Gray’s pet economic development project (WBJ)

Jack Evans: “I do not agree with the premise that developers use campaign contributions to control the votes of D.C. Council members” (Informer)

Yvette Alexander supports insurance-industry-backed delay to health exchange mandate (WBJ)

New York police contradict FEMS, say powdery letter sent to gun-control activist tested positive for ricin (Blade)

Time for the District to up its efforts on child mental health (Post editorial)

Controversial Connecticut Avenue apartment building gets its permits (WBJ)

Three options for connecting Georgetown with Union Station: Streetcar, streetcar or “premium bus” (Current via Dish)

Seventeen years in prison for Ellsworth Colbert, convicted of Penn Branch killing (Homicide Watch)

Plea negotiations underway for man accused of running over D.C. cop (Examiner)

Man found shot dead in 16th Street Heights alley (Post)

Another test tube found at Spring Valley chemical weapons site (WTOP)

Mom’s Organic Market commits to Hecht’s warehouse project (Housing Complex)

A lengthy takedown of Dana Milbank’s recent D.C.-themed column (City Desk)

Anacostia’s still waiting for that rebirth (GGW)

Induced-demand theory applies to restaurants, too (Young & Hungry)

$50 million in NoMa parks money will help build “Swampoodle Plaza” (Housing Complex)

Ibiza’s club liquor license, with nude dancing endorsement, could be yours for $4.5 million (PoPville)

Is Dupont still D.C.’s “gayborhood”? (Borderstan)

Gun march organizer will be getting high first (City Desk)

Among the best bars in America, per Esquire: Tabard Inn, Jack Rose Dining Saloon, the Raven (GOG)

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis | May 29, 2013