Two Virginia firefighters were suspended for driving a sick child to the hospital in their fire engine instead of waiting for an ambulance.
Brian Nunamaker and his 18-month-old daughter were running errands on Feb. 27 when the little girl began to have a seizure, he told Fox 5 DC.
The father pulled over near a McDonald's and called 911.
He said he was impressed by how quickly the firefighters from the Falmouth Volunteer Fire Department arrived.
"The eternity of waiting for help to arrive was surprisingly non-existent in this situation," Nunamaker told Fox 5 DC. "I was surprised at how quickly help had arrived in the form of a fire truck."
Captain James Kelley told The Free Lance-Star he was one of the firefighters to arrived. He told the newspaper the child was blue from her head to her chest, and he realized she needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible.
"I immediately told the driver to turn on the engine," Kelley told the newspaper. "This child was in dire need of a hospital."
Kelley and fellow firefighter Sgt. Virgil Bloom said that they believed medical units wouldn't arrive for another 10 to 15 minutes.
The pair decided to take the child to the hospital themselves, because they didn't think they could wait that long for medics to arrive.
"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 said in a statement about the incident, according to The Free Lance-Star.
Once the toddler was in the vehicle, Kelley said an ambulance offered to meet up with him. But, he told the newspaper he declined because they were close to the hospital at that point.
The child had another seizure at the hospital, but has since recovered and is doing well, Nunamaker told Fox 5 DC. But Kelley and Bloom have been suspended because they transported the girl to the hospital in their vehicle.
The reason for the suspension, according to several reports, is that the men's fire engine is an "non-transport unit."
This means it doesn't have the restraints and medications required of emergency vehicles, according to The Free-Lance Star. Kelley told the newspaper he doesn't believe he violated a written policy.
The suspensions have angered people online, and a Facebook page has been set up calling for the firefighters to be reinstated.
The Stafford Fire and Rescue Department didn't immediately return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News, but told Fox 5 DC they couldn't comment because of an ongoing probe into the incident.
Nunamaker said he and his wife feel "terrible" that the firefighters have been suspended, saying "in our eyes, they are heroes."
"They simply had the best interests for our daughter's care in mind," he told Fox 5 DC. "We are extremely thankful they made the decisions they did, and that our daughter is back home with us doing well."
Kelley told WUSA that he wouldn't do anything differently if he could go back and relive the incident.
"I would not hesitate, I would do the exact same thing 100%, 10 times out of 10," he said. "I sleep well at night knowing I provided good care to that young lady."