Violence against Firefighters and related first responders has increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, according to D.C.’s acting chief of DC Fire & EMS John Donnelly, who said he’s still trying to come to grips with an incident Sunday where a firefighter/EMT was injured in a shooting.
The shooting came just as DCFD is preparing to issue a new directive making it clear that firefighters/EMTs should not go into certain situations without police to secure the scene first. A firefighter/EMT suffered a grazing wound to one leg, and a bystander was hit in the hand.
Police said the bullets appeared to have come from nearby Halley Terrace, but said it was unclear who the target of the shooting was.
The shooting happened as threats of violence against firefighters/EMTS has increased with 22 injured in assaults since December of 2018, according to department records. Firefighter/EMT calls for police help have jumped from roughly 40 in 2019 to roughly 60 this year, according to a department spokesman.
“We’ve seen an uptick in these calls, since the beginning of COVID,” Donnelly said. “That also mirrors a national trend. I think all the dynamics going on in our community are creating some stresses.”
Donnelly said the department is preparing to release written policies directing firefighters/EMTs to wait for the police if they are called into a threatening situation. He pointed out that the DCFD members shot at Sunday were already in an area secured by police after the initial shooting. “This still happened,” Donnelly said.”This is one of those things I don’t think we can policy our way out of. Their actions on this were textbook. The area was secured by police and the police were on the scene when the shooting started. This person who shot at them was bold.”
Donnelly said the incident will not affect service, as DCFD responders will continue to answer every time they are called.
DC Police said no suspects have been arrested yet.