July 12, 2024

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‘It’s flooding horribly’ | DC officials release transcripts of the 911 calls of the deadly District Dogs flood

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The timeline provided shows that it took first responders 23 minutes to enter the canine day care center from the time the first call was made.

WASHINGTON — After flash flooding led to 10 dogs drowning, D.C. officials released a timeline into the response to the deadly District Dogs flood that indicates it took first responders 23 minutes to enter the business from the time the first 911 call was made.

In a closed-door session with the reporters, Director of the Office of Unified Communications (OUC) Heather McGaffin and DC Fire and EMS Chief John Donnelly admitted that a dispatcher did not elevate the gravity of the emergency calls which would have helped rescuers respond faster.

McGaffin did not admit to any mistakes made by her team but said a dispatcher “misspoke” when he described the incident inside of District Dogs as a “water leak.” She told reporters that the dispatcher that misspoke was still employed at OUC and taking calls. McGaffin refused to confirm whether the dispatcher was facing disciplinary actions. 

Timeline of events, according to D.C. officials

5:06 P.M.

A caller who identifies herself as the manager of District Dogs calls in from Montgomery County. She tells the calltaker that she has been watching what was happening from a camera. “It’s flooding horribly. The walls gave out,” the manager says. 

“That area floods so bad all the time. It broke the wall. The building is going under water right now,” the caller says. 

5:09 P.M.

A caller calls in from Prince George’s County who has also been watching remotely through a camera. She identifies herself as the assistant manager at District Dogs. 

“The whole place looks like a swimming pool right now. It’s like the third, fourth time we flooded. This time it’s terrible,” she tells the calltaker. The second caller also indicates that the walls of the business gave out.

5:18 P.M.

A call is made from inside of District Dogs. The caller tells the calltaker that they need water rescue immediately and that there are seven people trapped inside and that one employee is not responding. 

“We have a man in the water who can’t hold on to anything and we haven’t heard anything back from him awhile. We’re afraid he might not be with us anymore.”

5:20 P.M.

DC Fire and EMS that were on scene responding to the stranded motorists underneath the nearby Rhode Island Avenue underpass identify the situation and water level at District Dogs. 

5:22 P.M.

Dispatch notifies DC Fire and EMS on scene that there is an incident at District Dogs. 

5:29 P.M.

DC Fire and EMS confirm that they have entered the building. 

Sixteen minutes went by before from the time the initial 911 call was made until dispatch relayed what was happening at District Dogs to first responders. 

McGaffin told reporters that part of the issue during the response on Rhode Island Avenue Northeast is that there current system does not allow them to classify the gravity of what was taking place inside of District Dogs. The 911 call details a flood, which does not reflect the reality that people and dogs were trapped inside with 6-foot floodwaters. 

McGaffin said that moving forward, scenarios like the one seen at District Dogs will be categorized as a collapsed building. She says the decision to change the category was made Chief Donnelly moments before speaking to reporters. 

WATCH NEXT: DC officials on the 911 response to District Dogs tragedy

2023-08-22 03:44:32

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