Two volunteer firefighters in Stafford County, Virginia, were suspended following their attempts to save an 18-month-old girl who was having a seizure last Saturday because they used their fire engine to transport her to a hospital.
Captain James Kelley and Sgt. Virgil Bloom from the Falmouth Volunteer Fire Department in Fredericksburg were suspended for their actions last Saturday after they were the first responders to answer a call coming from a little girl's father near a McDonald's restaurant, according to WTTG-TV. The father had reported that his 18-month-old daughter was having a seizure and required a hospital, and according to Kelley it would have taken at least 10 to 15 minutes before the nearest medic could arrive at the restaurant and provide assistance.
That's when the two firefighters decided to take the matter into their own hands.
Kelley and Bloom took the little girl with them into the fire engine and began the trek to Mary Washington Hospital, and Kelley said that the toddler immediately was put on oxygen in the fire engine and arrived inside the hospital's trauma room within 13 minutes of the time the call had first come in, WTTG reported. Although an ambulance requested to meet the firefighters near the hospital to finish the journey, Kelley ultimately denied the request.
Brian Nunamaker, the girl's father, spoke to WTTG one week after the incident occurred, insisting that he credited the firefighters' quick thinking and actions with saving his daughter's life.
"As a parent, you feel extremely helpless to be unable to assist the most important person in the world [your child] during such a time of emergency," Nunamaker said, according to WTTG. "Worst case scenarios run through your head while you are hoping for the best. The eternity of waiting for help to arrive was surprisingly non-existent in this situation. I was surprised at how quickly help had arrived in the form of a fire truck."
But Kelley and Bloom were suspended after the incident because of their use of a fire engine, which is licensed as a non-transport unit, in taking the child to the hospital, according to WUSA-TV.
Kelley said that he is concerned because his county's residents are more at risk while he and Bloom wait out their suspension.
"I would not hesitate, I would do the exact same thing 100 percent 10 times out of 10," Kelley told WUSA. "I sleep well at night knowing I provided good care to that young lady."
Stafford Fire and Rescue Department Assistant Chief Mark indicated that he is unable to comment on the situation while this potential regulatory compliance issue is under review, WUSA reported.
"My wife and I feel terrible for the fallout that has happened to these two gentlemen," Nunamaker told WTTG. "They simply had the best interests for our daughter's care in mind. We are extremely thankful they made the decisions they did, and that our daughter is back home with us doing well. The actions of these men represent a dedication to their mission, and a deep concern of doing what is best for the people they are serving. In our eyes, they are heroes."
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