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Firefighters Suspended for Rushing Toddler to Hospital in Fire Truck

The Short of It

Two Virginia volunteer firefighters have been suspended for driving a toddler to the hospital in a fire engine after she had a seizure.

The Lowdown

Stafford County volunteer firefighters Capt. James Kelley and Sgt. Virgil Bloom were called to a location near a McDonald's restaurant Saturday, Feb. 27, because an 18-month-old was having a seizure.

According to the little girl's father, Brian Nunamaker, his youngest daughter started to seize while they were running errands, so he pulled over near the McDonald's and called 911.

"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 wrote in a statement to Fox 5 TV. "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."

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Nunamaker said his daughter was limp when he handed her to fire rescue personnel, but she was still breathing with a pulse. He said the firefighters asked a few questions, then put his daughter in the truck, and took off to get her to the hospital.

According to Kelley, the child needed to get to the hospital ASAP. But based on a call location for the nearest medic, he thought it would be at least 10 to 15 minutes before one could get there. Kelley told Fox 5 he also asked for aid from the city of Fredericksburg, but no one was ever dispatched. So they decided to put the child on oxygen in the fire truck and rush her to the hospital. She was in the trauma room within 13 minutes of the time the call came in.

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When Nunamaker arrived at the hospital, his daughter was having another seizure in the emergency room, and doctors were concerned about possible paralysis on her left side. But luckily, she's home now and is doing fine, Nunamaker said.

"The neurologists at VCU explained that timing is extremely important when reacting to seizures," he explained. "My wife and I are extremely grateful for the assistance provided by the first responders, 911 operator, medical staff at Mary Washington, and VCU."

The Upshot

Nunamaker was lucky the firefighters responded the way they did in an emergency situation where timing was so critical. Which is why he was dismayed to hear that the two volunteers were suspended by the county because the fire engine is licensed as a non-transport unit, which means it doesn't have the proper restraints and medications.

"My wife and I feel terrible for the fallout that has happened to these two gentlemen," Nunamaker said in his statement to Fox 5. "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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Ours, too. I know if that had been my child having a seizure, I'd want the firefighters to act exactly the way that they did.

A Facebook page has now been started to reinstate them, and a rally will be held in their support tonight.

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