On July 5, 3-year-old Zachary was spotted blue and unconscious in the shallow end of Dove Waterpark.
Aquatics staff sprang into action at poolside, and water pumped out of the small child as they applied compressions. The five rescuers were thrilled as he regained color and consciousness.
Everything came together as it should,” City Aquatics Director Jennifer Kashner-Fry said after a recent City Council meeting where the life-saving event was heralded. “Everybody played the role they were required to play. And that’s why it ended great.”
At the Aug. 5 meeting, Mayor William D. Tate presented an all-inclusive honor to the “lifeguards and aquatics staff” for their lifesaving efforts that occurred a month before to the day.
He also provided special recognition to five staff members who played the biggest role: Makenzie Brown, 20, Madison Bass, 20 (manager on deck), Jacob Mattson, 17, Jenelle Garcia, 19, and Meagan Brown, 16.
Among the many family and friends in attendance was Asst. Fire Chief Darrell Brown, the father of two of the rescuers.
Fire Chief Steve Bass, who is retiring this month and will be handing the reins over to Brown, made the presentation, making a special reference to Brown, whose four daughters work at the city venue — including his 16-year-old triplets.
“What a wonderful group of people they are as a family,” Bass said, adding that the “heroic actions” by all involved — including scene control — were a testament to the training provided to the city.
“Their skills to save a life demonstrate selfless service in a critical situation,” Bass said. “Nothing pleases me more than when I have the opportunity to present the people from our community that go above and beyond and fulfill the training or their job responsibilities, or simply that moment in time, so brilliantly as some young people did.”
He lauded the actions of all involved, saying, “What a wonder it is to say that the child was revived. When the paramedics arrived he was beginning to come around. It was a miraculous rescue, to say the least.”
He added that the youngster recovered “without deficit for a 3-year-old.”
Kashner-Fry later recounted the events of the day.
She said it was about 2:20 p.m. when Makenzie Brown saw a child floating unconscious face up in 3-foot-deep water.
Immediately, the boy was pulled from the pool “and all five [recognized] worked on him,” Kashner-Fry said.
She said they implemented their emergency action plan and all 14 on staff that day did their jobs, drawing upon their training that is bolstered by two additional hours of training per week.
“We drill over and over until it’s second nature,” Kashner-Fry said.
Two of the honorees, Makenzie Brown and Madison Bass, recalled the day their training was put to the test.
“He was completely blue and his stomach was extended,” Brown said. “He was completely full of water.”
Bass said they were confident due to their training, but that “it was one of the scariest moments of our lives. People don’t come back from this.”
Then, she said, “We pumped all the water and his eyes opened. It was an unbelievable feeling.”
Brown agreed, adding, “We were all in sync . . . on auto pilot training. Everybody that day did a phenomenal job.”
The parents brought Zachary back to the pool another day to offer their thanks and to show he was fine.
“It was really cool to see the parents,” the 20-year-old said. “It helped provide closure.”
The life-saving recognition was posted on the city’s Facebook page. Kashner-Frys said they believe the mother wrote the post saying she was “eternally grateful.”