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DC ladder truck takes sick child to hospital. Crew decides not to wait for distant ambulance.


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Paul Wagner, WTTG-TV/Fox 5:

Firefighters in the District had to use a ladder  truck to take a sick toddler to the hospital Saturday night when they were told  the nearest ambulance was at least five miles away.

The child was having a seizure and the men on the  truck did not want to wait. It is a decision that has left the boy’s parents  both pleased and perturbed.

Derrick and Denise Jones are praising the actions of  the firefighters who came to their Northeast D.C. home Saturday night to care  for their sick toddler, but they are confounded by the fact an ambulance was not  there when they needed one.

Denise Jones rode to the hospital in the truck with  her child and now she wants to know why.

Little Derrick is doing fine Monday — fully  recovered from a viral infection that launched him into a scary seizure Saturday  night.

“I saw my son foaming at the mouth real heavy,” said  Derrick Jones in an interview Monday. “It was pouring down rain. There was a lot  of foam around his mouth and his eyes rolled into the back of his head.”

Father and son were in the car and Derrick Sr.  headed right for home where he found his wife and called 911.

“When I came out, he was upset,” said Denise Jones,  the toddler’s mother. “Everybody was trying to calm him down. I was calm and I  opened the door and looked at him and he was just looking out in the distance  and I called his name and he wouldn’t look at me and I shook him and it was like  a blank stare on his face.”

Called to the scene were firefighters on Truck 13  who went right to work.

But when they heard how long it would take for an  ambulance to arrive, the firefighters took the child in their arms and told mom  to get on board.

“So I was like, wow, we are going to have to go on a  fire truck,” said Denise. “There is a seat in the middle, so he is in the  middle, the firemen are on the side, and I was in a seat across the them and  they were tending to him and calling his name and trying to see if he would  focus.”

And off they went to Children’s Hospital where  2-year-old Derrick was treated for about four hours and released.

With time now to think about it, Derrick and Denise  Jones have nothing but praise for the firefighters, but are bewildered by the  need to go in a truck.

“That is crazy,” said the toddler’s dad. “I felt  helpless. I thought when you asked for medical help, they sent an ambulance. You  know, I felt very helpless.”

The couple says they have been following the ongoing  troubles of D.C. Fire and EMS, but to experience firsthand was a shock.

“You pay your city taxes and you are not getting  services, especially in an emergency,” said Denise Jones.

“I felt very helpless,” said Derrick Jones. “I was  scared for my son. I thought he was going to die. Yeah, we were really scared. I  was very upset. If you had seen me, you would say he was very upset. It scared  me to death. I never experienced anything like that with him.”

Denise Jones was so shaken by the entire experience  that she stayed home from work Monday to be with her son.

This is not the first time a patient has been taken  to a hospital in the District on a fire truck.

There have been other recent high profile incidents  as well.

It is a judgment call by the firefighters on  board.

D.C. Fire and EMS released this statement to FOX  5:

“The closest transport units available at the time  of dispatch were identified because the others were already on emergency calls.  The department commends the quick action taken by the members of Truck 13 who  recognized the need to transport immediately.”

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Comments - Add Yours

  • puzzled

    Can’t say about up there, but were that to happen in Texas, (and it has), people could be decertified,lose their jobs and tens of thousands of dollars in fines and penalities would be assessed against the city for violating EMS laws and rules. Did I say it has happened here?

    • Glad-I-don’t-live-there

      And there was no public outrage that they were penalized for doing the right thing ??? Like Fire21 and FLFF both said: they did the right thing !! That’s what we’re supposed to do !!

  • Fire21

    I realize there’s turmoil in DC over ambulance service. But in the meantime, the fire service is in a position to do as Chief Brunacini preached…do what’s right and be nice. Truck 13 did exactly that.

  • FLFF

    Hey… this gave ‘em lemons so they made lemonade. Good job!

  • nyfd

    Are all yours EMS people sorry.Do they have watch at night,i was told all ems people in dc are lazy ..Do they clean up.. Name one

    • Anonymous

      The majority of the “EMS people” are Firefighters.

  • Jeff B

    First responders are highly trained, I like the decision that was made. Making lemonade from lemons as stated above is exactly what happened!

  • Jay911

    Good job to the truckies. Here, you cannot transport without a provincial (state) licensed vehicle, and fire trucks don’t count. They’d get crucified.

  • JD

    Nothing good every comes out of Texas. Good job to the Ladder Company for making the right call.

  • JustSayin’

    Since the ladders are not certified for fire service usage,
    the Trucks might as well be used for EMS transport.

    They are nothing more than manpower squads otherwise.

  • Cosgrove

    Just Sayin . How do u know the ladders are not certified now?

  • SrFireOfficial

    A company officer made a good decision, that is his/her responsibility when situations fall out of the normal protocol, that’s what they are there for and paid to do whether a suppression or EMS call. As the captain on a paramedic engine company, I was ready to make the same decision if necessary over the course of my career. It had been discussed with the paramedic and my driver and if it meant life over death over an ass-reaming, the decision was going for life, not cover my ass.

    A similar situation arose in Philadelphia a few years ago to transport a critical asthma patient in a fire truck and there was some fall out. Sadly, the fallout in any system is going to be a fine or reprimand from the EMS governing agency. So what’s DC gonna do, sue DC? Ha ha ha.

    Good work brothers.

  • Mack Seagrave

    Good job by the Brothers in DC. Not everyone is cut out to be a firefighter. It’s a job that requires brains, common sense, compassion and guts (just to name a few). Firefighters don’t sweat the small stuff when a life may be on the line … they take the best action possible and answer for it later (if necessary).

  • Md FF

    Just give it a few days and that commendment wont exist. they’ll try to suspend and demote people from these actions.

    Awesome job tk13

    • DCFD Taiban

      yeah right! “Awesome job t13″ yeah they are so awesome thats why its so out of control over there. What should be the penalty for an officer abusing his powers, hazing, and bullying a subordinate.

      I’ll tell you,”DEMOTION” period.


    The department is being managed well – Vincent Gray


    Strong work, Truck 13!
    With or without LRB and his minions, the men and women of the DCFD continue to do what needs to be done.

    For those places where you’re “not allowed” to transport in a fire truck in a similar situation, do they hand out “attaboys” for standing around and letting the patient die while you wait for a properly vetted transport unit?? Or, do you just hail them a cab and wish them luck?

  • Volunteer for life

    May be the chief should get a part in Chicago fire. He sure is not living in the real world.

  • Bullets

    Philly PD transports trauma patients in patrol cars all the time.

    This might be the most intelligent thing to come out of DC in years

  • puzzled

    In my original comment, I was not condemning the actions of the crew. Mearly stating the difference from one part of the country to another. The Great State of Texas (tongue in cheek), never asked for my opinion when they enacted these rules and laws we have now. However, a violation of a law is still a violation, no mater how well intentioned.

    “the nearest ambulance was at least five miles away” – There are many areas here, where the nearest ambulance is 25 miles or more away. Areas where a helicopter can be dispatched 150 miles away, and still beat a ground ambulance to the scene.

    If the laws and rules don’t prohibit using a fire apparatus in this way in DC, then great job, good thinking, way to go.

    But in places where it violates the law, I’m not sure I would put my whole career in jeapordy for a febrile seizure.

    No doubt though, there is a staffing and ambulance issue in DC.

    • DCFD Taiban

      fortunately we have those here who would put their careers on the line over feeble causes. They can’t seem to get enough of self promotion, hurray! finally the chief gutted engine 10. If you cant run your firehouse and keep your members in check,than ya got to go.

  • Molly

    I would hope that guidelines for this type of occurrence do in fact allow for non ambulance transport if the situation is deemed necessary by a suitably trained officer in charge.
    If the fire truck can get the patient to life saving care faster than the ambulance can do the same (either with onboard equipment or via transporting to somewhere that can), then it’s a no brainer. Just be sure you judge the timing right.

  • Tim

    With 2 little ones at home myself I know I’d put my position as an officer and my ENTIRE career on the line to do the right thing to try and save a life. A child having a seizure with an ambulance 10 minutes away, I would throw the child over my shoulder and run to the hospital if I thought I could beat the ambulance to the hospital. Things in DC are far worse than what gets reported. This is 2013, not 1993. This type of thing shouldn’t happen anywhere in a major metropolitan area because of mismanagement. Units being on another run is one thing, but not ENOUGH units to begin with in a city that has a budget surplus is criminal.

  • mdf

    Not questioning the actions at all of Truck 13. The company the LT made a decision with the information they had, and only they were there.

    My question is: Are the DC truck companies ALS or BLS, or AnyLS? Out this way (midwest), most of the metro area engines are paramedic engines- they’ve got 1 or 2 firefighter/medics on board and usually a round of ACLS drugs. The ladders/trucks are usually BLS, and carry an AED and an aid bag and maybe suction.

    Just askin for personal knowledge. Thanks.

    • Anonymous

      BLS…….unless they’re housed with a PEC and said PEC is OOS mechanical, then the Medic will usually slide across to the Truck making it an PTC.

  • DCFD Taiban

    Coming to a trial board near you…to eradicate the tea party

  • DCFD taliban

    I spoke to a member that was working that day @ T13, and he said he didn’t believe the kids situation was that bad were it warranted transport by the truck.

    This is another example of the tea party never ending quest to embarrass the department.