1st Responders Honored for Swimming Pool Rescue

Wearing a yellow-and-white dress, with replica stickers of San Marino fire and police badges affixed to the front, little Chanelle Hong looked around the City Hall chambers and seemed to wonder what all the fuss was about.
The tears of gratitude that welled in the eyes of her mom, Amy Zhang, left no doubt about that, however.
“I cannot thank the San Marino Police and Fire departments enough,” Zhang said last week with a quavering voice. “Because of them, I can hug my little girl again every morning.”
Chanelle, 3, was saved from a near-drowning in the family pool on June 5, thanks to quick response by San Marino police and fire. The first responders were formally recognized at last week’s City Council meeting.
During a backyard party at the family home in the 1300 block of Bedford Road, Chanelle’s life jacket reportedly slipped off while she was swimming in the pool. Two family friends, Kelly and Kevin Zhong, found her motionless in the water, called for help and pulled her out of the pool.
After a call was placed to 911, Police Officer Victor Gee was the first on the scene, arriving within one minute of the dispatch call. He found the girl unresponsive and not breathing on the pool deck, and immediately began to perform rescue breathing until the San Marino Fire Department arrived moments later.
“Without a doubt, he was the key to her survival,” SMFD Division Chief Bryan Frieders, the on-duty incident commander that day, said of Gee.
With San Marino’s rescue ambulance handling another call, its engine responded, manned by Capt. Dominic Petta, Engineer Nathan Foth, and Firefighter/Paramedics Richard Fixen and Anthony Alvarado. They employed advanced life-support measures, including pediatric respiratory stabilization, airway fluid removal and intravenous therapy.
Only one month before, San Marino’s engine had been outfitted with the advanced life-support equipment and certified for paramedic purposes.
The girl began taking patchy breaths on her own while being transported to Huntington Hospital in a paramedic ambulance from South Pasadena, and she began to speak as it pulled up to the hospital — wondering where her strawberry ice cream was.
She and her family shocked the SMFD by walking into the fire station the next day to express their thanks.
At the City Council meeting, Police Chief John Incontro praised the teamwork of police officers, firefighters and dispatchers, which “ensured that Chanelle was going to survive … and be here with us today.”
Zhang commended first responders for their efficiency and dedication, admitting that “this incident occurred so suddenly, the process was so nerve-wracking.”
Frieders remarked that when he entered firefighting 28 years ago, “I said that if I was able to make a difference in one person’s life, that was good enough.”
He continued: “There’s a sense of pride that comes over you when you watch and observe the people that you’ve trained, worked with and lived with for a third of your life performing as they did. I think today is a testament to the individuals who work for the city and their dedication to the response for the city. And that little girl who is standing there is a direct result of their hard work and their training and their dedication to you, the citizens of the city.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am to sit back and observe this event, because this is what it’s all about. This is why we do what we do.”

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