A dispatcher who told a distraught 911 emergency line caller to "grow up," and an ambulance worker found guilty of "inexcusable neglect of duty" during an incident in which he refused to transport an injured woman, are working as clerks in the D.C. Fire Department, officials disclosed last week.
On March 27, officials moved to fire ambulance dispatcher Stewart Johnson after disclosure of a March 1 incident in which he told a man whose stepmother was dying to "grow up."
Emergency medical technician William Lipphard was suspended with pay April 28 after a 22-year-old woman accused him of being verbally abusive, refusing to give her medical treatment and throwing a firecracker at her.
In their first exercise of wide-ranging watchdog authority over the troubled ambulance service, health officials on April 31 found Lipphard guilty of failing to render emergency care, smoking a cigarette inside an ambulance and unprofessional behavior. They asked that he be suspended without pay for 30 days for "inexcusable neglect of duty."
But the disciplinary wheels of city government grind slowly.
Lipphard was first "formally notified" May 28 of the department's plan to suspend him without pay for 30 days. Such notification is the first step of "due process" in disciplinary action against a city employe, fire officials said. Lipphard has been working as a clerk in the emergency ambulance branch, receiving his emergency medical technician salary since April 28, according to ambulance spokesman Lt. Ted Holmes, who said he could not say when the suspension would take effect.
The department's two-month-old recommendation that Johnson be fired is being reviewed by the D.C. Office of Employee Relations "to see if the severity is in line with the District employe policy," Holmes said in a recent interview.
"Pending review, Mr. Johnson is and has been working in communications in a noncommunicative position," Holmes said. "He's not handling the radios and telephone calls. He's working in an administrative, clerical position, in a noncontract arena at this time." Holmes said he does not know how long the review will take but added that Johnson will receive his full salary during the review process.