Listen Live
Paramedics loading patient into ambulance

Source: Thinkstock Images / Getty

The medical director of the District of Columbia’s long-troubled fire department is stepping down, saying “people are dying needlessly” because the department is resistant to reform.

Dr. Jullette Saussy has been on the job for seven months. She previously ran the ambulance service in New Orleans.

In her resignation letter, dated Jan. 29, Saussy says the culture of the fire department “is highly toxic” to delivering “quality pre-hospital care.”

Saussy says a 35-year-old man died of a “potentially survivable” stab wound last month after an ambulance took more than 18 minutes to arrive. She says that happened because too many resources are devoted to “low-level calls.”

Michael Czin, a spokesman for Mayor Muriel Bowser, says the mayor is “committed to reforming” the department and improving patient outcomes.