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With no ambulances available, D.C. fire truck transports toddler to hospital

Tuesday - 9/24/2013, 2:23pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Scared their child was going to die, a D.C. couple was bewildered that no ambulance was available to help Saturday night. The boy had to be taken from their Northeast D.C. home to the hospital in a fire truck.

Derrick and Denise Jones told FOX 5 they called 911 Saturday night because their toddler was having seizures. Derrick, 2, was foaming at the mouth.

"A whole bunch of foam was coming out. His eyes were rolling into the back of his head," Derrick said to FOX 5.

The Joneses say the arriving fire truck crew, Truck 13, informed them the closest ambulance was at least five miles away. The crew said the boy needed medical attention immediately and would have to be taken to the hospital in the fire department's ladder truck.

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Children's National Medical Center treated the toddler for a viral infection that caused his seizures, the boy's parents told FOX 5.

While the couple says they were happy with the help they received from firefighters, they were frustrated with the city.

"You pay your city taxes and you are not getting services, especially in an emergency," Denise said to FOX 5.

After cases similar to this, the District's fire department has recently faced criticism related to ambulance availability and medic staffing.

The fire department praised the action of the firefighters and said other nearby resources were not available because they were already on emergency calls.

D.C. Fire and EMS released the following 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."

Firefighters union president, Ed Smith, points to the lack of resources in the D.C. EMS system, saying firefighters have transported patients in the past but that it's rare.

Smith calls the crew's decision "life saving."

"They're heroes," he said. "They stepped up to the plate."

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WTOP's Nick Iannelli contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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