Virginia Firefighters Suspended After Transporting Unresponsive Toddler to Hospital
(ABC News) — While responding to a 911 call last Saturday, volunteer firefighters James Kelley and Virgil Bloom had a split-second decision to make. They were faced with an unresponsive toddler who had suffered a seizure and was turning blue from lack of oxygen, and the nearest ambulance was potentially several miles away.
Kelley and Bloom, members of the Falmouth Volunteer Fire Department in Fredericksburg, Virginia, elected not to wait for the ambulance.
“I looked at my driver, without any hesitation, and I said, ‘Turn it around, we’re going to the hospital,’” Kelley said.
They loaded the patient, 18-month-old Lena Nunamaker, into the back seat of the fire truck and transported her to the hospital. The toddler is now reportedly in good health.
Now, Kelley and Bloom have been suspended pending an investigation by the Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department, which oversees the Falmouth volunteer squad. County policy prohibits the use of a fire truck to transport a patient in need of medical attention.
Falmouth Fire Chief Christopher Smith said that he supports Kelley and Bloom’s decision, regardless of whether it violated policy.
“If I was in the same position, I would have done the exact same thing,” Smith said. “We understand policy, we understand protocol, we understand operating guidelines, but they are just that. They’re guidelines.”
The Falmouth Fire Department also posted a statement on its website, thanking the community for its support.
“The recent events that have taken place have showed across the nation that the citizens we serve support us through tough times,” the statement read. “We as a department thank you all for the continued support.”
Officials with the Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.