STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. - A Facebook page has been started in support of two Stafford County volunteer firefighters who were suspended after they chose to drive a toddler to the hospital in their fire truck.
The suspended firefighters, Captain James Kelley and Sgt. Virgil Bloom, volunteer for the Falmouth Volunteer Fire Department in Fredericksburg. They were the first to arrive when called to a location near a McDonald’s restaurant last Saturday because the child was having a seizure, Kelley told FOX 5.
Kelley, who is a D.C. firefighter who also volunteers in Stafford County, told FOX 5’s Alexandra Limon he immediately told the driver of the truck to turn on the engine because the little girl was in dire need of a hospital. Based on a previous call location for the nearest medic, Kelley said he thought it would be at least 10 to 15 minutes before one could arrive, and when he asked for a location from the nearest medic, he got an answer that didn’t give any specifics.
According to Kelley, the child was put on oxygen in the fire engine and was in the trauma room within 13 minutes of the time the call came in. The girl’s father, Brian Nunamaker, told FOX 5’s Paul Wagner he was grateful for the firefighter’s decision.
"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.”
After the incident, both Kelley and Bloom were suspended by the county. According to Kelley, his fire engine is licensed as a “non-transport unit,” and doesn’t have the proper restraints and medications that medic units have. But, Kelley also says he didn’t violate a written county policy. He’s also upset because he says that in D.C., where he works full-time as a firefighter, he would be honored for his actions—but in this case, he’s being punished.
In a statement sent to FOX 5, a Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said, "A potential regulatory compliance issue is under review by the Fire and Rescue Department and the Virginia Department of Health. Therefore, we are unable to comment on this issue.
The Facebook page started in support of Kelley and Bloom is called Reinstate Our Heroes Stafford. The woman who started it tells FOX 5’s Alexandra Limon she doesn’t know the firefighters personally, but she is an EMT in Stafford County. She wishes to remain anonymous for fear of getting in trouble at work. She started the page after seeing so many people asking on social media what could be done to help the firefighters.
She’s recommending that those who want to help them contact the county and the fire chief, and she’s been distributing that information on the new Facebook page.
“Clearly there's many people rallying behind these 2 men & Stafford needs to just stop the nonsense!” a post made early Sunday morning on the page said. “Being an EMT- I would go above to save a life & that's what these men did!! I stand proud of the both of them & seeing the story of how grateful the parents of the little girl are- STAFFORD SHOULD MAKE A PUBLIC APOLOGY to both of these men as well as the parents of the child!!!!!”
By Sunday afternoon, the page already had more than 2,000 likes.
FACEBOOK PAGE: REINSTATE OUR HEROES STAFFORD