STAFFORD, VA (WWBT) - Two Stafford area firefighters returned to work Monday after being placed on leave for what may have saved a little child's life. Now the fire chief is speaking out, saying the first responders performed an action they had no authority to do.
Capt. James Kelley left a news conference, changed into his fire uniform and returned to his volunteer station in Fredericksburg on Monday afternoon. He says he's glad to finally put this all behind him.
When he and fellow firefighter Virgil Bloom got a call to respond to the scene of an 18-month-old who was having a seizure, they wasted no time -- even arriving before medics could get there. They say they called on medics several times but there was no time to wait. They rushed the baby girl to a nearby hospital where she got life-saving attention.
But their action sparked an internal investigation.
"The reason this situation came under review by our department is because of the way the patient was transported to the hospital, which involved a fire engine instead of an ambulance. This is a highly unusual occurrence by our department and as we do in situations that appear to veer from our established practice, we initiated a review," said Fire Chief Mark Lockhart.
"I was cool, calm and collected. I made the decision to do something and I stand behind it 100 percent," he said.
"Captain, would you do the same thing again?" NBC 12 asked.
"10 out of 10 times. 100 percent," he said.
The fire chief says the medics would have been on the scene in another 7 to 9 minutes and that a separate life-support unit was just 3 to 4 minutes
But Kelley felt he needed to act quickly to save the baby, who is now doing fine.
The child's family says they praise the actions of the firemen.
A state EMS organization is conducting its own investigation.
Lockhart wanted to point out, the firefighters were not suspended, which would have implied disciplinary action. He says they were simply placed on leave as the department reviewed its protocol.
"Transporting a patient in a non-transport licensed vehicle is a violation," he said.
The child they transported is doing well.
"After speaking with the father, she's at home doing very well so that's all that matters to me, the end result is she's doing fine and she's great. That's all that matters to me," said Kelley.
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