When Durand Ford called 911 after his 71-year-old father started having trouble breathing, he never thought it would take D.C. Fire & EMS more than 30 minutes to arrive. His father passed away and, still grieving, his family received a $780.85 bill from D.C. Fire & EMS for that ambulance.
More than 170,000 people signed Durand's petition asking D.C. Fire and EMS to drop the bill and he even testified at a hearing to improve D.C. emergency response times. Soon after, D.C. Fire let Durand know that they would not be pursuing the bill. In the four months after he launched his petition, D.C. emergency response times also improved.
On January 1, my family called 911 when my 71-year-old father was having trouble breathing. The ambulance took more than 30 minutes to arrive and by the time it did, my father had already passed away. Still grieving, my family was shocked to receive a bill for $780.85 from DC Fire & EMS for that ambulance.
In fact, a DC Fire and EMS ambulance never arrived. A neighboring jurisdiction, Prince George's County, had to come over 7 miles to help. So, D.C. didn't provide the service they billed and we’d like DC Fire & EMS to rescind this bill.
My father, Durand Ford Sr., died of an apparent heart attack. A person suffering a heart attack needs advanced life support as soon as possible. Thirty minutes is too late.
According to records, our 911 call was made at 1:25 a.m and a DC fire truck arrived nine minutes later, but an ambulance was unavailable. According to Prince George’s County Fire & EMS records, DC Fire did not call Prince George’s County for assistance until 1:47 a.m and the ambulance did not arrive to our home until 1:58 a.m.
Even one of the DC Council members Yvette Alexander, who represents our Ward, has said, “Based on my experience in similar circumstances, DC Fire & EMS has not billed.”
We’re thankful for the firefighters that arrived on-time and for the EMT's attempts to save my father's life, but it’s not fair to bill our family for an ambulance that came far too late.