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Grandmother Questions Emergency Service After Grandchild's Death

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By Natalie Neumann

Family members of a two-year-old girl are wondering why the toddler wasn't taken to the hospital immediately after a 911 call. She was taken to Children's Hospital later, but died the next day.

Stephanie Stephens's voice plays from her grandmother's answering machine, but Tondalia Richardson will never be able to hold her grandchild in her arms again.

"She was the world. Just the bubbliest little thing," says Richardson. "She was always happy, never cried."

Early in the morning of Feburary 10th, emergency workers answered a call to the girl's home, but she wasn't taken to the hospital until after a second call nine hours later.

No one knows exactly what happened during that first response. The grandmother wasn't there. Stephanie's mother isn't talking. And D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman Pete Piringer didn't provide any details.

He did say that the emergency workers involved have been put on leave while the department investigates. And he says everyone is taking the incident seriously.

"The expectation is that you'll receive the highest level of care, quick response, compassionate care, and if appropriate, transportation to the hospital," he says.

Piringer says it's important to know what really happened, and he promises the investigation will be completed soon.

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