Yesterday evening Lon Walls, communications director for the DC Fire & EMS Department, sent out press releases on behalf of Chief Kenneth Ellerbe that described two recent news stories about the department as inaccurate. One is Chief Ellerbe’s detailed response to a story broadcast by WRC-TV/NBC 4 way back on February 8 about a bill for services to the family of a man who died on New Year’s Day. There was a lengthy wait for an ambulance in that case because of staffing shortages. For the first time since the incident occurred, the department has issued a detailed timeline. Click here for the release.
On this page are the two follow-up stories the TV stations did in reaction to the press releases from Chief Ellerbe. Above is the video from the Training Academy story and below is what was published on WRC-TV/NBC 4‘s website about the ambulace issue:
D.C. Fire and EMS released a statement Thursday explain what happened early New Year’s Day, when a man died after waiting for an ambulance.
Durand Ford Sr. waited 30 minutes for an ambulance as he was having trouble breathing and that ambulance came from Maryland, according to his family. While fire officials acknowledge a delay in getting an ambulance to the scene, they said a paramedic was on scene providing appropriate care in 10 minutes.
According to D.C. fire, after the call was dispatched at 1:26 a.m., a fire truck responded at 1:35 a.m. and a second truck – one with the paramedic – arrived at 1:37 a.m. A call for additional assistance was placed at 1:40 a.m., and because no D.C. ambulances were available, Prince George’s County responded to a mutual aid request, D.C. fire officials said. However, a D.C. ambulance became available at 1:42 a.m., and D.C. fire said the D.C. ambulance reached the scene at 1:55 a.m. – before a Prince George’s County ambulance got there.
The ambulance that did transport Ford was from D.C., not Maryland, according to D.C. fire. The ambulance from Prince George’s County was not used and returned to Maryland.
D.C. fire also cited a high volume of calls at the time as well as a high number of personnel out sick as the reason why an ambulance wasn’t available before 1:42 a.m.
Furthermore, what Ford’s family believes was a bill for $700 was a notice from the billing contractor requesting insurance information and permission to file an insurance claim, according to D.C. fire.
D.C. Fire and EMS does not generally comment on specific patient cases due to privacy issues, officials said, but they commented Thursday due to “inaccurate” information in newspapers, broadcasts and on social media.
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