Several first responders aiding in the fight against California’s largest wildfire of the year are being lauded for their off-duty actions after they saved the life of a 10-year-old boy from drowning over the weekend.
The paramedics, assigned to the Dixie Fire, were staying at a hotel in Redding when they heard the mother’s anguished cries for help, according to video posted Sunday on the Cal Fire’s Butte Unit/Butte County Fire Department’s Facebook page.
Though they weren’t on the clock, the group immediately sprang into action, jumping a fence to get to the hotel pool where an unresponsive 10-year-old boy remained partially submerged in the water.
“We don’t have time to use key cards,” Jarred Neal of the Oakland Fire Department explained in the video of their quick-thinking response.
The rescuers checked on the boy and found he was in dire shape.
“He had water in the lungs, he was not breathing and he had no pulse,” Brian Basso, a firefighter with the Oxnard Fire Department, said in the video.
Basso helped administer the life-saving CPR to the child and “prevented a tragedy,” according to a post on the city of Oxnard’s Facebook page Thursday.
Eventually, the 10-year-old sat up and cried in what paramedic Tom Schwedhelm described as “sigh of relief” moment.
“It’s funny, as paramedics, you know, when kids cry that’s good, that means they have an airway,” said Schwedhelm, who is with the Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District
The boy was transported to a local hospital by ambulance, his mother remaining at his side.
She was “rubbing his foot and telling him it was gonna be OK. And I truly believe it is,” Neal said in the video. “We were just right there at the right time.”
The rescue marked a triumph during what’s been an otherwise taxing and challenging firefight for crews. Since erupting on July 14, the Dixie Fire has charred 345 square miles in Butte and Plumas counties, destroyed dozens of structures and continues to threatens thousands of homes.
As of Thursday, the massive inferno was 23% contained, with nearly 6,000 personnel assigned to battle the blaze, according to Cal Fire.