The manager of a Northeast Washington fast food restaurant who was shot in the heart during a robbery April 6 went without medical attention for more than 20 minutes, and the D.C. police and fire departments are investigating why help did not arrive sooner.

Timothy L. Kemp of 3752 First St. SE was shot once about 3:20 p.m. during the robbery at the Holly Farms Fried Chicken restaurant, 5120 Nannie Helen Burroughs Ave. NE. He died about five hours later at Prince George's General Hospital.

Battalion Fire Chief Ray Alfred said that, according to tape-recorded conversations, fire department dispatchers were not told by police that Kemp, 32, had been shot.

"It came to our communications as an assault, and they probably didn't put much of a priority on it," Alfred said. "If we had gotten it as a gunshot, we would have dispatched an engine local, a basic unit [ambulance] and an advanced life support unit automatically."

Police department spokesman William White III disputed that. "According to our communications division, the fire department was advised that it was a gunshot wound."

Police Chief Maurice Turner, in a statement yesterday said, "We were informed by the fire department that no ambulance was available, nor was an engine company available to be dispatched."

Alfred, acknowledging that he had not heard all the fire department tapes, said Fire Chief Theodore Coleman had ordered an investigation in the incident. Alfred disputed the claim that no engine company was available. "That doesn't even make sense. That would mean every engine company in the city was out on call."

When it became apparent a fire department ambulance was not going to arrive until later, according to police and fire department sources, District police asked for a U.S. Park Police helicopter to take Kemp to the hospital, but were told none was available.

The D.C. police helicopter branch at National Airport was monitoring the conversation with Park Police on the radio and volunteered to fly Kemp to the hospital from Woodson Senior High School, about five blocks from the restaurant, according to one source. However, the source said, the helicopter did not arrive.

"They let that man lay there and damn near die" on the scene, said Vincent Freeman, 39, who said he stood across the street from the Holly Farms restaurant with his brothers, Bobby and William Freeman, and watched the police operations.

Police said they were first notified of the shooting at 3:21 p.m., when Kemp called and said the store had been robbed. Police sources said Kemp never mentioned he had been shot.

Two police officers arrived about three minutes later, and at 3:25 p.m. officers at the scene requested an ambulance, according to Turner's statement.

About two minutes later, the statement said, the officers advised police department communications that Kemp was suffering from a gunshot wound, " . . . and the fire department was advised of the situation and the immediate need of ambulance service."

Alfred said the fire department received a call at 3:25 p.m. for an "injured subject" at the Holly Farms, and that an ambulance was not dispatched until five minutes later.

That ambulance, which had just finished making a run to Capitol Hill Hospital, 700 Constitution Ave. NE, was more than three miles away and did not arrive until 3:40 p.m., almost 20 minutes after Kemp had been shot.

Meanwhile, Kemp had been placed in a police car, which left as the ambulance arrived. The ambulance followed it to Woodson High, according to Kevin Connor and Willie Davis, the two emergency medical technicians in the ambulance.

When they learned that the D.C. police helicopter that was to take Kemp to the hospital was still on the ground at National Airport, they transferred Kemp from the police cruiser to their ambulance and drove him to Prince George's General Hospital, where they arrived at 3:51 p.m., according to hospital records.

Doctors operated on Kemp for about three hours, according to Dr. Bakulesh Patel, in charge of the hospital's shock-trauma unit that night.

"Any time there is a delay in this kind of a case it is not good. If he had had 15 minutes more of less bleeding, less strain on the heart, he would have done much better," Patel said.

"I cannot say it would have made a difference" in whether Kemp lived or died, he said. "But it is an established fact that the earlier you treat a trauma patient, the better off you are."

"I'm appalled," said Kemp's 33-year-old brother, Mike. "It seems like the police department, the fire department or somebody could tell us something . . . . Do you think if this had happened on Capitol Hill or in Georgetown, the ambulance would have gotten there sooner?"

"There are too many unanswered questions," said another brother, William Kemp, 37. "I'd like some answers. Just the fact that no one's communicated anything to us about the shooting or his brother's medical treatment gives me cause for concern."

Police said no arrest has been made in the shooting.