brings DC's NYE staffing fiasco to the attention of hundreds of thousands.

A source provided me with the following email, sent to the subscribers of (a for-profit organization that seeks to "empower anyone, anywhere to start, join, and win campaigns for social change.") As reported by NBC on 9 February, Durand Ford, Jr. received an almost $800 bill for Emergency Medical Services from the District, even after his father had died waiting thirty-three minutes for an ambulance on New Year's Eve. In his anger and frustration, Durand Jr. is requesting that DC Fire & EMS rescind the bill—especially since the ambulance that actually arrived to his home was a Prince George's County unit, dispatched from a the Maryland suburb of Oxon Hill. 

The petition is concise, and is listed in its entirety below. It would appear that Durand, Jr. is not seeking any further action, compensation, or redress besides the elimination of the bill. According to at the time of this writing, 135,905 supporters have signed the petition.

I'd love to hear from some strong opinions on this one. Would you sign it? Does he have a case for this, or anything further? I'm looking at you, FireLaw!


DC Fire and EMS: Drop the $780 bill for the ambulance that never came

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.

District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department 
Please rescind the $780.85 ambulance bill sent to Durand Ford Jr.



[Your name]





  • Mick Mayers says:

    On top of all of this, I feel badly as well for the crew on the engine company that was there working the patient for (according to the times identified) 22 minutes before finally just giving up and calling for mutual aid.  I can't even imagine the frustration of being there with a family, watching their loved one die, and not being able to do much about it.  From what it sounds like, the family at least appreciated their efforts.  And I can see in a big system like DCFEMS that a bill might have gotten away that shouldn't have, but to insist on their payment afterward in this situation, is, to me, a little ballsy.

    • raisingladders says:

      Agreed—as a D.C. firefighter/paramedic who’s had that desperate moment where we needed a transport unit for a critical patient, only to be told by communciations that there are none available, I also feel for the engine crew (especially the medic). 

  • CJ Ewell says:

    I already did sign it. Who are these bean counter who think they run the world?

  • Jay Chong says:

    @ CJ Ewell – its good that you signed, but I think this is more of a case where the giant government bureaucracy doesn't understand the implications of its actions rather than a purposeful action to oppress the masses.

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Alex Capece

Washington, D.C. Firefighter and Paramedic

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