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First Responders Go Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Jennifer Arnold by Jennifer Arnold Additional Needs

Jennifer Arnold

Jennifer Arnold

I’m passionate about raising awareness about disability issues through education and outreach. When I’m not wearing my writer hat, I’m usually tryi...

Last August, during the first week of school, our son Chance came home and seemed a little “off.” He was pale and clammy.

He proceeded to lay down on the floor with his tablet and wanted nothing to do with the after-school snack I offered him.

This in itself was alarming since the first place he usually heads after school is the refrigerator.

Chance has chronic lung disease, so any unusual behavior like this puts us in high alert mode.

A few hours later I put him to rest in our bed, hooked him up to his pulse ox machine, and didn’t like the numbers I saw at all.

His breathing was getting shallow. I started throwing things in a travel bag and called 911.

By this time he had fallen asleep, only to be awoken by five first responders standing over him ten minutes later.

He was petrified. They all tried their best to calm him down, but nothing was working.

My husband had to carry him out to the ambulance, kicking and crying the whole way. It took a good 20 minutes to calm him down enough to where they could put an oxygen mask on him en route to the hospital.

Chance ended up being admitted for pneumonia and spent a few days under observation until the worst of the virus had passed.

About a week after he was discharged, my phone rang.

It was the Redding Fire Captain; one of the men who just days earlier had helped load my writhing, flailing son into the ambulance.

He asked how Chance was doing and we chatted for a few minutes.

He then asked if it would be ok if he and some other guys from the department paid Chance a visit with the firetruck and ambulance when he was feeling up to it.

I was floored. He went on to explain that this was something they routinely do many for chronically ill children in the area.

They bring the ambulance and fire truck around when they are well, so they can sit in it, explore it, honk the horn, etc.

He told me that this (usually) helps diminish the negative connotation and fear that a lot of these kids associate with the first responders and their vehicles.

That weekend, the fire truck and ambulance pulled up to our driveway once again.

Our kids got to explore the vehicles to their heart’s content, while the crew patiently answered all kinds of questions, and even let them water the lawn with the fire hose!

Chance was enthralled, and most importantly, was left with positive memories.

Should we ever need to call an ambulance again, I am pretty confident he won’t freak out quite as badly as he did in August.

I am still in awe and extremely grateful that they would go out of their way to make sure kids like my son won’t be so scared of emergency vehicles.

I also need to mention that this visit was on the heels of one of the many wildfires that plagued Northen California last summer.

All the fire crews were stretched to their limits over and over, and they still made time to make a difference to a little boy who now excitedly points out every ambulance and fire truck he sees, and wonders aloud if his new friends are in there.


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