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2 Stafford County firefighters reinstated after transporting toddler in fire engine

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STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. -- Two Stafford County volunteer firefighters that were suspended for rushing a toddler to the hospital in their fire engine, have been reinstated.

The County’s fire department called a press conference Monday afternoon, where they announced Capt. James Kelley and Sgt. Virgil Bloom returned to work Monday at 4 p.m.

Capt. Kelley, a 20-year veteran firefighter, said he and Sgt. Bloom decided to rush the infant to the hospital in the fire engine because other first responders would have taken much longer and that delay could have put the child’s life at risk.

“I would not hesitate, I would do the exact same thing 100 percent 10 times out of 10,” Kelly told WUSA. “I sleep well at night knowing I provided good care to that young lady.”

Stafford County Fire and EMS Chief Mark Lockhart said the firemen were placed on administrative leave as protocol while a matter is under review.

“We’ve completed that review and those individuals have been returned to operational status.” he said.

Stafford County Fire and EMS Chief Mark Lockhart

Stafford County Fire and EMS Chief Mark Lockhart

Chief Lockhart emphasized, transporting a patient in a fire engine was highly unusual and that’s what triggered the internal review of the incident.

“The decision to transport in the firetruck was based on the information available to the officer in charge at the time and his assessment finding,” he said. “We did however find that department medical protocol for this type of patient was not followed and that will be addressed with the individuals involved.”

Chief Lockhart added during their review they found at the time the engine initiated transport, two minutes and six seconds after arriving on scene, the medic unit was approximately 4.6 miles away and basic life support ambulance was approximately 1.7 miles away.

Officials did find basic emergency medical care was provided in route to the hospital.

“Two of the three crew members are EMT’B’s and one provided basic life support care,” said Lockhart. “The child was placed on s seat in the rear cab of the fire engine in a turncoat with a seatbelt and held by the crew members.”

According to CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit, Capt. Kelley and Sgt. Bloom have obtained legal representation. The State Office of Emergency Services said they are investigating the incident.

Chief Lockhart said if the department is found to be in violation they could receive a citation.

Parent: My daughter was limp 

Brian Nunamaker, the child’s father, told WTTG the incident happened on Saturday, Feb. 27 around 11 a.m. when his daughter suffered a medical emergency as they were driving home after running errands.

Nunamaker told the station he pulled over just past the McDonald’s at Ferry Farm and called 911 when his daughter started having a seizure.

“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. “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.”

When Kelley and Bloom arrived, Nunamaker said his daughter was limp. However, he said she was still breathing  when the pair asked him some questions and then put the child into the fire truck and drove her to Mary Washington Hospital.