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Fire company that treated stabbed baby set to be disbanded

Truck company administered life-support care to the wounded baby five minutes before the ambulance arrived.

truck 15 julie iverson

The crew of Truck 15 played a publicly unacknowledged role in treating the baby stabbed by her mother in East Baltimore.

Photo by: Julie Iverson

Before TV cameras and a large audience, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Gov. Martin O’Malley yesterday presented plaques and offered the highest praise to two city workers who recently helped save an infant being stabbed at a social services office in East Baltimore.

But Dana Hayes and William Purnell Short, who subdued the suspect, were not the only heroes that day. Not honored or mentioned by the mayor and governor were members of a fire company set to be closed by the Rawlings-Blake administration.

Truck Company 15 was the first to arrive at the social services office on April 24, two minutes after they were dispatched by 911 operators, according to records reviewed by The Brew.

The crew reached the building at 10:03 a.m. and administered emergency care – which controlled the bleeding from seven stab wounds suffered by the infant – before the arrival of a medic unit and ambulance at 10:08 a.m., five minutes later.

“In my opinion, Truck 15 kept the baby alive by picking up the call quickly and beginning immediate critical care to treating the wounds,” said a fire department member who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the incident.

Truck 15 is one of three fire companies – the others are Truck 10 in Harlem Park and Squad 11 at Hopkins Bayview – slated to be disbanded on July 1 as a cost-saving measure by the Rawlings-Blake administration.

Responding to queries from The Brew, fire department spokesman Kevin Cartwright said today in an email, “The proposed disbandment of Truck Company 15 would not have impacted the fire department’s response to the Biddle Street [stabbing] incident.”

Social worker Dana Hayes was awarded a plaque for bravery by Gov. O'Malley and Mayor Rawlings-Blake in a ceremony yesterday. (WJZ-Channel 13)

Social worker Dana Hayes awarded a plaque by Gov. O'Malley and Mayor Rawlings-Blake yesterday. (WJZ-Channel 13)

Because another fire company would replace Truck 15 at the East Baltimore station house, Cartwright said, “The neighborhoods will not lose any fire protection; what they will lose is simply a ladder truck versus a fire engine.”

But what about medical emergencies?

Firefighters in Baltimore double as emergency medical responders. Cartwright did not respond to a question on how the proposed closing of Truck 15 might impact on medical emergencies and treatment times.

According to Rick Hoffman, president of Baltimore Firefighters Local 734, the disbanding of Truck 15 would cut the safety net in the neighborhood where the April 24 stabbing took place.

“We need to have a fully funded department to handle medical emergencies, like this stabbing,” he said in an interview.

Busiest Truck Company in City

Stationed at 1223 North Montford Ave., Truck 15 is the busiest truck company in Baltimore.

In fiscal 2010-11, it responded to 3,556 calls. So far this year, the company has already passed the mark of 3,300 calls, and is on its way to a record 4,000 calls when the year ends on June 30.

About two-thirds of the calls are for medical emergencies. “Who is going to take those calls?” asked the fire department member. “Those calls aren’t going to magically disappear at the start of the new fiscal year.”

In regards to the stabbing of Pretty Diamond (her mother, Kenisha Thomas, is being held in police custody for the stabbing), city records show that a trauma call went out on the main dispatch line at 9:58 a.m.

The closest responder, Engine Company 51, was on a call in southeast Baltimore. Medic Unit 4, stationed in Bolton Hill, was the closest 911 responder, while Medic Unit 24, stationed at Old Town, was at Mercy Hospital.

Truck 15 Takes the Call

Meanwhile, Truck 15 was completing a call on Lakewood Ave. about four blocks from the social services building.

The unit informed the dispatcher at 10:01 a.m. that it would take the run, replacing Engine Company 5 in Fells Point, and arrived at the social services building at 3031 East Biddle St. at 10:03 a.m.

The Truck 15 crew was directed by police into the building where they found a member of the social services staff cradling the baby, according to eyewitnesses who requested anonymity.

The baby had three stab wounds in the neck, one in the left eye and three wounds in chest, all from a knife that police say was smuggled into the building by the infant’s mother.

The baby’s clothes were soaked in blood. The Truck 15 crew cut off her clothes and began controlling the bleeding with direct pressure and sterile dressings. The most potentially serious wounds were in the chest and neck.

“Damage has been done to the baby’s voice box and airway, and she was trying to scream, but it came out very hoarsely,” said a person at the scene.

By the time Medic Unit 24 arrived at 10:08, the bleeding was under control, the wounds had been dressed and there were good lung sounds, according to eyewitnesses.

The baby was placed on a stretcher and rolled out to the ambulance, where she was given IV therapy and transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital. Her arrival at Hopkins is listed as 10:21 a.m.

Earlier this week, the infant was released from Hopkins.

“On the Front Lines”

At yesterday’s ceremony, Gov. O’Malley told the audience of mostly government workers that they are frequently “on the front lines.”

He was quoted in The Baltimore Sun as saying, “There is no such thing here in Baltimore as a spare American. A lot of times in the budget debates, people who don’t know what you do will say just . . . cut, cut, cut.”

“That’s not what we’re about,” the governor added. “Lives that can’t even speak or walk for themselves depend on you.”

Ryan O’Doherty, spokesman for Mayor Rawlings-Blake, did not respond to questions today by The Brew about the stabbing incident and ceremony.

PRIOR STORIES ON FIRE COMPANY CLOSINGS in The Brew:

Indians, but no chief at fire closing hearings
Councilman calls for hearings on proposed fire closures
What the neighbors and numbers say about losing Ladder Truck 15
Councilman proposes selling ads on the sides of firetrucks

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  • AJW

    Although a stabbed baby isn’t typical anywhere, Truck 15 handles a large volume of trauma in their neighborhood. Their first due is primarily inhabited by people getting by on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. Shootings, stabbings and assaults ARE typical responses that Truck 15 routinely takes.

  • Aaronca81

    closing truck 15 will harm and endanger people and there safety,it will effect response time,and live saving response time as that with the infant will get longer I promise.and I know first hand the call volume T-15 as every year along with other equipment thru out the city to include medic units.and disbanding equipment will not change or make it better.when will people get tired of paying high taxes only to have services the need the most cut,so can save less important things..city residents it is your lives and homes on the line,so your choice,make your voice and opinion heard..stand up for what is right and fair for..

    ret. BCFD

    • Haligans

      O’Malley criticizing cuts to the Fire Department?  He closed 7 companies in 2000. What a hypocrite.

  • mandy

    i dont even live in maryland anymore and seen this come across on facebook.. i am blown away that the stupid maryland govt would be doing this.. it shows what kind of change need to happen to maryland  for state and local govt. total bs!!!

  • Concerned citizen

    What Cartwright failed to answer, and what needs to be asked, is what neighborhood is then losing their fire protection/ems services because of the disbandment of Truck Co 15 and the movement of the Engine Co moving into their quarters???

  • Gina1720

    What the politicians don’t seem to remember is that the amount of territory  and the number of buildings doesn’t change just because of a change in population. Then they expect the county companies to cover for them.
    O’Malley was as guilty as anyone in cutting companies.

  • Gina1720

    What the politicians don’t seem to remember is that the amount of territory  and the number of buildings doesn’t change just because of a change in population. Then they expect the county companies to cover for them.
    O’Malley was as guilty as anyone in cutting companies.

  • Barnadine the Pirate

    Make a list of budget cuts adding up to $8.8 million that won’t result in someone’s ox being gored. Because that’s the alternative to the fire cuts.

    Do you think community anger would be any less if they cut $8.8 million from the school or police budgets?

    • Anonymous

      From B Brew: Only a portion of the $8.8M you cite will come from converting the current rotating closures to the three permanent closures. There is also a pay freeze that figures into this number. We’re trying to get the exact anticipated savings for the fire company closures. -MR

  • Thatguy

    I know this is a few weeks late, but at the time of this stabbing, Engine 51, who was the closest company, was responding to a non-breathing call. 

  • Sticky Wicket

    This is all very sad! Pay Freezes??? Someone tell the Chief he just gave almost 30,000 to his to Assistant chiefs just 60 days ago?!?!?!?!

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