A Washington, D.C., resident was shocked to get a bill for an ambulance that didn't arrive for 30 minutes, too late for his stricken father, who had already died.
"I feel angry, upset," Durand Ford Jr. told NBC News
. "I'm disturbed that we even received this bill."
Ford says he got a bill for $780.85 from the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Service Department for the ambulance, for which he waited longer than half an hour in the early hours of Jan. 1. He and his family called 911 because his father, 71-year-old Durand Ford Sr., was having trouble breathing.
Phone records reveal the 911 call was made at 1:25 a.m. A district fire truck arrived nine minutes later, but no ambulance was available.
According to Prince George’s County Fire & EMS records, the district's fire department did not call Prince George's County for assistance until 1:47 a.m. One minute later, the county dispatched an ambulance to go to Ford’s home in southeast Washington. It arrived at 1:58 a.m. By then, the senior Ford was already dead from cardiac arrest.
Ford's home is only a mile and a half from the nearest firehouse, according to NBC News.
More than 50 union firefighters — who staff the ambulances in the district — reportedly called out sick on New Year's Eve, a number the firefighters' union said was "unusual."
"I was very disturbed to learn of the low levels of staffing of firefighters on New Year's Eve," D.C. councilman Tommy Wells said in a January statement. "This put the safety of district residents in jeopardy . . . Whatever personnel and management issues may exist, the safety of the residents of the District of Columbia are non-negotiable."
Another council member, Yvette Alexander, has vowed to help Ford resolve the bill.
"Based on my experience in similar circumstances, DC Fire & EMS has not billed," Alexander told NBC News.
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