D.C.

Wayne Branch, D.C. Fire & EMS official, retires

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A high-ranking D.C. Fire & EMS official has resigned amidst questions over whether the agency is in the middle of an equipment shortage.

The resignation of Deputy Chief Wayne Branch comes after several high-profile incidents where people faced extended waits for an ambulance, including an injured police officer.

Branch was the first man to publicly take the fall for the ongoing issues within the D.C. fire department.

He testified before the D.C. Council last month about the readiness of emergency vehicles. Branch retired just five days later.

It turns out the number of units he told the council were ready and in service was inaccurate. Some have no doors. One had no compartment door for more than a year. One has been listed out-of-service since 2010. One has been in a scrapyard in Wisconsin for the past four years.

"When you see us struggling to do day to day operations, I can't imagine a terrorist event or a natural disaster,” says Ed Smith, D.C. Firefighters Union president.

Smith is referring to multiple incidents where ambulances weren't available.

Last Tuesday, a D.C. motorcycle officer waited in the street 20 minutes after suffering a broken leg during a hit and run. He was eventually picked up by a Prince George's County ambulance.

But the fire department, and the man taking over for Branch, maintains it was all a miscommunication and the fleet is fine.

“We are going to make sure we have the resources that we need and if we don't we are going to go find them and we are going to get all this stuff up here so we are ready to meet the needs,” says John Donnelly, incoming deputy fire chief.

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