Firefighters suspended for transporting sick kid in fire truck

The firefighters responded to a call for a child having a seizure; the nearest medic unit was 10 to 15 minutes away

The Free Lance-Star

FALMOUTH, Va. — Two volunteers from the Falmouth Fire Station in Stafford County were suspended after transporting an 18-month-old to the hospital in a fire engine, according to firefighters from the station.

Capt. James Kelley and Sgt. Virgil Bloom were the first to arrive at the McDonald’s restaurant near the Ferry Farms neighborhood last Saturday, Kelley said.

Kelley, the officer in charge, said the 18-month-old child was having a seizure and was blue from her chest to her head.

“I immediately told the driver to turn on the engine,” Kelley said. “This child was in dire need of a hospital.”

Kelley didn’t think a medic unit would be available for at least 10 to 15 minutes. He said that while he was on his way to the McDonald’s, a medic unit called in over the radio to say they were the closest unit. But Kelley had heard the unit’s prior call was in North Stafford on White Pine Circle.

Kelley said he didn’t receive an answer from the medic unit after he asked for its location. After his second request, the medic unit only answered “southbound on Route 1.”

“That caused major chaos,” Kelley said.

Kelley said he then requested mutual aid from the city of Fredericksburg, but Fredericksburg was never dispatched.

“Considering all the factors—the presentation of the child, the unknown location of the medic unit, and the distance to the hospital—I felt it was in the patient’s best interest to transport immediately,” Kelley wrote in a statement he provided to the county.

Once the child was in the fire engine, another ambulance requested to meet up with the engine at the Falmouth Station. But because the engine was already over the Chatham bridge on the way to Mary Washington Hospital, Kelley said he denied the request.

He said the child was placed on oxygen in the fire engine and was laid in the trauma room within 13 minutes of getting the call.

She had paralysis on the entire left side of her body when she arrived at the hospital, according to Kelley. He said the infant is still alive.

Bloom and Kelley were suspended by the county after the incident last Saturday, according to several firefighters.

Kelley said that his fire engine is licensed as a “non-transport unit.” He explained that fire engines don’t have proper restraints and that medic units have certain medications.

But Falmouth Volunteer Fire Chief Christopher Smith and Kelley both contend that Kelley didn’t violate a written Stafford policy. Smith said he would have done the same thing because the priority is always the best care of the patient.

Smith also said the losses of Kelley and Bloom have caused longer response times.

Stafford Fire and Rescue Department spokesperson Mark Doyle declined to comment while the department reviews the case.

Copyright 2016 The Free Lance-Star
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