May 13, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Last October, the Cazenovia Volunteer Fire Department and the Cazenovia Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps (CAVAC) responded to one of the most difficult calls they had ever faced — the rescue of 10-year-old community member Charlie Thompson after he fell down an 18-foot-deep well. The indefatigable efforts of members of both organizations that night seven months ago saved Charlie’s life.
Last week, in recognition of their feat, the entire companies of both CVFD and CAVAC jointly received the highest honor bestowed by the Madison County Volunteer Firemen’s Association — the Fireman of the Year award.
More than 30 members of both organizations, as well as Charlie’s parents, Kevin and Rosemary Thompson, attended the MCVFA banquet last Friday, May 9, at the Rusty Rail on Canastota.
Cazenovia Fire Chief Nick Enders, who submitted the award nomination to the county organization, said that although emergency responders are behind-the-scenes people who do not do what they do for recognition, he wanted them all to receive recognition for the miracle they achieved that night in October 2013.
“It was one of the most difficult calls we’ve ever had,” Enders said on accepting the award for his department. “The firefighters from our department, along with CAVAC crew, New York State Police, Madison County Shieriffs and Cazenovia Village Police Department started the process the help Charlie with great purpose and teamwork. Then the incredible staff at Galisano Children’s Hospital continued the effort. Because of everyone’s hard work and dedication during the call, Charlie is on his way to a full recovery.”
Madison County Emergency Services Coordinator Joe DeFrancisco presented the award, and read in full the nomination letter submitted by Enders.
As DeFrancisco read: The event occurred when Charlie, at the time age 10, was playing hide-and-seek at a Halloween party at a house on State Route 92. Trying to hide, he climbed over a rock well onto an old well cover that broke, plunging him 18 feet to the water below. It is unclear how long he was in the well before adults at the party were notified and emergency crews were called.
The well opening was only 24 inches in diameter — too small for a CFD member to crawl into. Calls were quickly placed for the Madison County rope rescue team, but, as Enders wrote in the nomination letter, “everyone knew exactly what this meant to the boy in the well if we waited for them.”
Fire crews acted quickly, grabbed a 12-foot pike pole and a firefighter went headfirst into the well — his feet held by other firefighters — used the hook to snag a part of Charlie’s clothing and slowly pulled him hand-over-hand out of the well.
EMS personnel from CAVAC and CFD immediately began life-saving techniques on the boy’s lifeless body, and tirelessly continued chest compressions all the way to the Upstate Hospital — which they reached in 16 minutes with a Cazenovia Police Department escort.
The first responders on the scene then returned to the firehouse, unsure of Charlie’s condition, to talk about the emotional call they just experienced and begin the first phases of grief counseling, when they received a text from a CFD member and CAVAC driver at the hospital who wrote, “At hospital. They have a pulse.”
On accepting the award, CAVAC Director Greg Widrick said, “The professionalism and ingenuity of firefighters to think on their feet was miraculous … If you don’t believe in God, that night he was definitely on our side.”
The more than two dozen Cazenovia firefighters at the banquet — all in their dress blues — all received smiles, hugs and handshakes from Charlie’s parents at the event.
“Charlie is absolutely fine. We are forever indebted and grateful to the entire extended community — this has reached China, Germany and Mexico — for their prayers and support. We will be forever grateful for the service providers available that night that were there to save Charlie’s life,” Charlie’s father, Kevin Thompson, told the Cazenovia Republican at the banquet.
“Sometimes after an incident of this intensity it is tough to stay connected … we appreciated how we have stayed connected to all the service providers, to the community, and to everyone who keeps reading our blog,” said Charlie’s mother, Rosemary Thompson.
During his acceptance speech, Enders, who grew emotional and had to ask DeFrancisco to finish reading his remarks, thanked Charlie’s parents for being such special people.
“Most parents would have been so overwhelmed – we probably should have been the last people they were thinking about. The last six months have been very tough for them, but from right after the incident they were also thinking of their first responders,” Enders wrote in his prepared statement. “With their daily blog all of us started each day with an update on Charlie. Most of the calls we go on end for us after CAVAC leaves the scene with the patient, but this time Rosemary and Kevin kept us involved and we appreciate that very much. The Thompsons will always have a very special place in our hearts, and getting to spend time with Charlie and Raeny a few weeks ago at the firehouse was very special to us. It was the day that brought closure to this call, and we got to see with our own eyes that miracles truly do happen.”
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.