Two Virginia volunteer firefighters who rushed a baby girl to a hospital — likely saving her life as she suffered from a seizure — have been suspended for one week and counting for using their fire engine for the heroic act.
“It’s taken a toll on me,” Captain James Kelley, one of the suspended saviors, told the Daily News on Sunday. He and Sgt. Virgil Bloom, who serve the Falmouth Volunteer Fire Department in Fredericksburg, have been suspended for eight days, with no idea how long it will continue.
“It hurts. It’s not only hurting us, it’s hurting the citizens as well, because we’re not staffed enough all the time. It’s taken a toll on a lot of things.”
The punishment came from Stafford County Fire & Rescue, which said the fire engine is licensed as a “non-transport unit” and can’t be turned into an an ad hoc ambulance, Fox 5 DC reported.
But the department never formally charged the unpaid firefighters with any wrongdoing, or gave them any idea how or when their suspensions could end, according to Fire Chief Christopher Smith.
“I absolutely object to it,” Smith told the Daily News about the suspensions.
“They haven’t done anything and they’re in this limbo status.”
The department was not immediately available for comment.
Kelley and Bloom were the first ones of the scene after a call about an 18-month-old girl having a seizure near a McDonald’s last Saturday. Kelley said he thought it might be at least 10 minutes before anyone else arrived, so he chose to take the girl to the hospital himself.
While driving there, Kelley said he asked for the location of the nearest ambulance twice, but never got a straight answer.
The girl was put on oxygen in the fire and arrived at a hospital 13 minutes after the call came in, Kelley said. She survived the ordeal and is expected to fully recover, according to Fox 5 DC.
But it seems that wasn’t enough to excuse the license lapse.
The girl’s father said in a statement he and his wife “feel terrible for the fallout that has happened to these two gentlemen.”
“They simply had the best interests for our daughter’s care in mind,” Brian Nunamaker said.
“We are extremely thankful they made the decisions they did.”
When reached Sunday, Kelley — who said he is a fourth-generation firefighter — was in the firehouse. He said he was still allowed to do “paperwork and administrative stuff,” but is banned for now from doing anything else.