Man Whose Father Died Waiting for Ambulance Sues DC Fire

A District man whose father died New Year's Eve 2012 while waiting 40 minutes for an ambulance has filed a lawsuit against D.C. Fire and EMS.

Durand Ford Jr. told News4's Shomari Stone earlier this year that his father, Durand Ford Sr., went into cardiac arrest Jan. 1 and his family called 911 around 1 a.m. to request assistance.

That night, more than 50 firefighters called out sick, approximately 1⁄4 of the force, according to the lawsuit. It's a number the firefighters' union called "unusual," though a spokesperson denied there was a coordinated sick-out that night.

Durand Ford Jr. and his family are suing for wrongful death, survival action and punitive damages, totaling $12 million.

"Durand Ford Sr.'s ultimate death was the direct and proximate result of the grossly negligent acts and/or omissions" of the fire department, the lawsuit states.

A spokesperson for D.C. fire told Stone that the department would not comment on the lawsuit.

According to records obtained by News4, at approximately 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.

D.C. Fire has come under scrutiny recently when a report revealed the department is understaffed and over budget by the millions.

News4's I-Team investigated ambulance delays following the death of a 53-year-old man last December. An ambulance was deployed to his home 10 minutes after an initial call, but a paramedic to conduct "Advanced Life Support" was not on board. That crew arrived 20 minutes after the first 911 call, and the man died five days later.

Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe testified in March only 58 of the District's 111 ambulances were in service, and only 245 paramedics were employed, short of a target of 300.

Last month, an ambulance broke down along Interstate 295 while transporting a gunshot victim.

Councilwoman Mary Cheh is calling for Ellerbe's resignation. The D.C. fire department also said it would not comment on Cheh's request.


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