Rockaway Paramedics Save Kid
Rockaway-based paramedics Keith Ahrens and Jason Verspoor were assigned to cover Howard Beach back in November. Admittedly, they were unfamiliar with the area, especially the vacant portion of swamp land near the foot of the Addabbo Bridge around the perimeter of Jamaica Bay.
But that’s exactly where the two were sent for a rather unusual call last Friday at around 7 p.m.
“We really didn’t think we were going to find anything,” Verspoor told The Wave. “We thought at first this had to be a prank.”
Regardless of what they thought, the crew along with police and fire personnel responded to a child with his “legs stuck in a hole.”
Upon arrival, Ahrens and Verspoor said, they could hear a kid screaming. According to Ahrens, high tide was rolling in and fog was thick, making it difficult to find the boy.
According to the 911 call, the 10-yearold boy told operators he had no idea where he was. His cell phone signal, however, was triangulated to 164 Avenue and 83 Street in Howard Beach, one of the easternmost points of the neighborhood, near Spring Creek Park.
“Once we heard the kid yelling, we knew we had to investigate further and keep looking. We tried to locate his tracks in the mud, but that didn’t work,” Verspoor continued.
The crews spread out in all directions and continued to look for the boy, following his calls for help. After nearly a half-mile walk around the park, the boy was found by Ahrens, waist deep in the mud at the foot of the bay with the high tide rolling in. Covered head to toe in mud, Ahrens and other emergency crews pulled the boy from the mud and carried him back to the paramedic truck where he was treated for hypothermia symptoms and brought to Jamaica Hospital.
“He was pale, shivering and turning blue,” Ahrens said. “As soon as I approached the boy I started sinking, too, and we knew we had to pull him out. High tide was rolling in and if this was an hour later, the boy may have been submerged.”
According to 911 reports the boy had traveled to boxing class in Howard Beach just four blocks away from his home. He was scheduled to return home somewhere between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. that night. However, when his parents arrived at the boxing school at 7 p.m. the instructor told them he had already left. At nearly the same time the 911 call came in from the boy.
The two paramedics are stationed in the EMS headquarters on Beach 49 Street in Edgemere.