What makes a hero?
Students at Walter Woodward Elementary School found out the answer to that question this past December when a 2-year-old was saved from a possible drowning in a residential pool not far from the south Manteca campus.
The rescue was nothing short of miraculous. One of the heroes who helped save the child’s life was Gina Jones, a registered nurse who also happened to work at the school. The others were Jones’ husband, Craig, a Lathrop-Manteca Fire District captain, Manteca City Fire Engineer Rob White, and Manteca firefighter Bryan Kendall. White and the Joneses were off duty at the time.
On Friday, Jan. 17, Woodward School will have a “What Makes a Hero” program that will honor their school nurse, her husband, and the other two men by presenting them with a plaque of recognition and appreciation. Along with the award presentation, selected students will read aloud their own short essays on what makes a hero.
The rescue incident happened on the first day of December 2013. The Joneses were walking their canine pets shortly before 5 p.m. in their neighborhood when Fire Captain Jones was alerted by the pager he was carrying on his belt to a drowning incident that was happening just down the block. Along the way, they met White. The three trained professionals, realizing the critical medical need arising from the incident they were listening to, all rushed to the nearby location where the drowning incident occurred.
Arriving at the location, they found that the young victim had already been taken inside the house from the backyard pool and was not breathing. They were told the toddler had been under water for about 10 minutes. The three immediately started a team effort administering CPR on the young victim. They continued the life-saving effort until the ambulance arrived.
Kendall, who had just gone on full-time status that day from being a reserve firefighter, continued the CPR teamwork while the child was in the ambulance taking the child to the emergency room at Doctors Hospital of Manteca. The child’s heartbeat was regained by the time the ambulance arrived at the hospital. After the child was stabilized by hospital staff, a Life Flight air ambulance helicopter arrived and transported the child, who was in critical condition, to Children’s Hospital in Oakland.