Demand Bill Be Waived for Man Whose Father Died Waiting for Ambulance

Target: Kenneth B. Ellerbe, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department Chief.

Goal: Waive $780 ambulance bill charged to a man whose father died waiting for an ambulance.

Durand Ford Jr. of Washington D.C. was charged $780 by the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department earlier this year. Ford made the 911 call for an ambulance in the earlier hours of the New Year for his father, who was having difficulty breathing.

At 1:25 a.m. on January 1, 2013, Mr. Ford called 911, begging for assistance. His father, Durand Ford Sr., was experiencing breathing difficulties. The D.C. operator told Mr. Ford that there were no ambulances nearby and that the Washington D.C. Fire & EMS would request one be dispatched from nearby Prince George’s County, Maryland. However, the call for assistance from D.C. Fire and EMS went out at 1:47 a.m., 22 minutes after Ford called 911. The ambulance did not arrive at the Ford residence until 1:58 a.m., 33 minutes after Ford requested help. By that time Durand Ford Sr. had passed away.

The Fords are naturally incensed at the lack of efficiency displayed by the D.C. Fire & EMS. The salt in the wound takes the form of a $780 bill that Durand Ford Jr. was charged with for use of the ambulance. DC Councilwoman Yvette Alexander, the Fords representative in the D.C neighborhood of Ward 7, says that it is unusual for DC Fire & EMS to bill victims in such circumstances. Sign the petition below to demand that Kenneth B. Ellerbe, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department Chief, waive the fees for the ambulance that arrived far too late to help Durand Ford Sr.


Dear Kenneth B. Ellerbe,

Durand Ford Jr. was recently charged $780 by the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department for the use of an ambulance. The ambulance in question was requested to help Ford’s father, Durand Ford Sr., who was suffering from breathing difficulties in the early hours of January 1, 2013. The ambulance arrived 33 minutes after the 911 call was placed and by that time, Ford Sr. had died.

Based on similar occurrences, the charge of $780 to Durand Ford Jr. is a cruel and unusual punishment. The ambulance that Ford requested could do nothing to help Ford’s father by the time it arrived. It was ineffectual in the circumstances and not by any fault of the Ford family. D.C. Fire & EMS requested the ambulance from another county, and made that request 22 minutes after Ford made the 911 call. Had the ambulance been requested immediately after Ford Jr.’s 911 call, Durand Ford Sr. might have had a better chance. At the very least, the ambulance and EMS would have fulfilled their duties in the situation.

I am writing to demand that the $780 bill charged to Durand Ford Jr. be waived immediately. It is salt in the wound of a family already grieving for a life that might have been saved.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Wonderlane @ Flickr.

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  1. Why should the callers be charged if the ambulance did not fulfill its obligation to respond to an emergency?

    • You’re thinking of a contingency fee: the consumer only pays if thinks work out for the consumer. The fire/emergency department probably charges for total services, not contingency. All of us are also assuming that the patient would have survived had an ambulance been sent first, although there are plenty of people who do not survive despite having an ambulance immediately.

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