Rebecca Woodruff, a four-year-old girl from Houston, Texas, died after her mother backed over her on their home’s driveway.
The mother, Olinda Woodruff, made the tragic discovery on – her daughter Rebecca, four, lying in the driveway after she had been hit.
Olinda Woodruff quickly called 911 and pleaded for an ambulance – but a fire truck came instead.
While an ambulance did arrive later, it was too late. Rebecca Woodruff was dead.
What makes the tragedy made even more heartbreaking is the possibility Rebecca Woodruff’s life may have been saved had the proper response arrived in time.
In a statement to the Houston Chronicle, Olinda Woodruff said she believed “too much precious time was lost” to save her daughter.
Olinda Woodruff added: “My wish is that the system is changed in time to save the next child who needs it.”
The fire engine was sent in accordance with a new protocol enacted in August to limit the number of ambulances sent when not needed.
While all firefighters have EMT training, fire trucks are not equipped with the same life-saving equipment or the ability to transport a victim to the hospital.
The girl’s father, John Woodruff, told Click2Houston.com: “In a situation as traumatic as this, it seems like the ambulance should have come right away.”
Houston fire Chief Terry Garrison told the Houston Chronicle that an internal probe would determine whether dispatchers acted appropriately.
Ten days after Rebecca Woodruff’s death on October 21, the department instituted a “makeover” of the policy, allowing first responders to “upgrade” the call while en route based on new information about the emergency.
City Council member Mike Sullivan, an opponent of the policy, said the change was a step in the right direction.
Mike Sullivan told the Houston Chronicle: “That’s an improvement because prior to October 31, the firefighter could not do that.
“He had to literally arrive on the scene, make an assessment, and then call for an ambulance.”