Son: Father Died Waiting for D.C. Ambulance

Dozens of D.C. firefighters called out sick on New Year's Eve

By NBC Washington Staff
|  Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013  |  Updated 7:54 AM EDT
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Shomari Stone reports

Shomari Stone reports

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In an exclusive interview, a D.C. man told News4 that his father died on New Year's Eve while waiting 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive -- the same night that dozens of D.C. firefighters called out sick.

Durand Ford Jr. told News4's Shomari Stone that his father, Durand Ford Sr., went into cardiac arrest on New Year's Eve and his family called 911 around 1 a.m. to request assistance.

"We're even more saddened because of the circumstances that surround my father's death," Ford said.

Ambulances in D.C. are staffed by firefighters -- and on New Year's eve, more than fifty of the District's firefighters called out sick. It's a number the firefighters' union called "unusual," though a spokesperson denied there was a coordinated sick-out that night.

According to records obtained by News4, at about 1:47 a.m. D.C. Fire asked Prince George's County Fire for assistance in responding to Ford's family's call. About a minute later, an ambulance was dispatched from Oxon Hill -- seven miles away from Ford's Southeast D.C. home. The ambulance arrived in ten minutes.

Ford's home is only a mile and a half from the nearest D.C. firehouse.

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells said in a statement, "I was very disturbed to learn of the low levels of staffing of firefighters on New Year's Eve. 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."

D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services has not responded to requests for comment.

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