Girl, 3, Saved From Near-Drowning

Quick action by San Marino first responders saved the life of a 3-year-old girl who nearly drowned in a swimming pool Sunday. A San Marino police officer administered CPR until the San Marino Fire Department’s engine, which was outfitted in April with advanced life-support equipment and certified for paramedic purposes, arrived moments later with its four-man crew.
The girl began breathing en route to the hospital, according to the SMFD, and recovered so quickly from her ordeal that she visited the fire station with her family on Monday, hugging firefighters and police officers.
“Things just clicked,” Fire Chief Mario Rueda said of the rescue, adding that he was “shocked” to see the girl up and about the next day.
The girl and her family were enjoying a backyard barbecue at their home in the 1300 block of Bedford Road when she apparently fell into the pool, according to officials. A family member found her motionless in the water and pulled her out, and the family called 911.
San Marino Police Officer Victor Gee was the first to arrive on the scene — within one minute of the dispatch call, according to the SMPD — and found the girl not breathing and unresponsive on the pool deck. He cleared her airway and began rescue breathing. (San Marino police officers are trained annually in CPR.)
With San Marino’s ambulance handling another call, the engine, newly certified as a paramedic assessment engine, arrived about a minute after Gee. Its crew of Capt. Dominic Petta, Engineer Nathan Foth, and firefighter/paramedics Richard Fixen and Anthony Alvarado, joined by Division Chief Bryan Frieders, employed advanced life support measures, including pediatric respiratory stabilization, airway fluid removal and intravenous therapy. The crew was shortly joined by a two-person paramedic ambulance from South Pasadena, Rueda said.
The Fire Department reported that as the girl was sped to Huntington Memorial Hospital, “she started moving and taking patchy breaths on her own. As the ambulance pulled into the hospital bay, the toddler’s vital signs were improving and she even started to speak. Her first words were, ‘Where is my strawberry ice cream?’”
The girl was hospitalized overnight, according to the SMFD. When she and her family made a surprise visit to the station the next day, “hugs, happiness and even tears were the theme of the visit,” a department press release said. “Yes, even the sturdy police officers and firefighters shed a tear or two in happiness.”
The San Marino Fire Department has been arguing against a City Council decision to reduce overtime costs in a manner that will cause the engine to operate with a crew of three about one-third of the time. “I hate to make this a staffing issue,” Rueda said of the rescue, “but there’s a lot to do [for all four members of the crew].”
“We’ve put out pool safety messages before and will probably do that again,” the chief continued. “The rapid response of the police, and [the officer] having some knowledge of what to do, and then having four qualified paramedics initiate advanced life support made the difference.”

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