As a firefighter paramedic, Turlock native Jarred Neal is trained to save lives, but when he heard the hectic cries for help from a mother trying to save her son, he had never been so happy that he had the skills to leap into action.
Neal was enjoying a day off from working as a fireline paramedic last summer for the Dixie Fire response teams and had just returned to his hotel in Redding when he heard cries for help.
“You know that sound…,” said Neal about the gut-wrenching sound of a mother trying to save her child.
The cries for help were coming from the hotel pool, and Neal wasted no time in racing to the scene, jumping a fence and assessing the situation. What he found was a 10-year-old boy half submerged in the pool who was not breathing and had no pulse.
Neal yelled for his fellow paramedics to bring their gear and immediately started CPR. His quick actions resuscitated the boys and he started breathing on his own.
“By the time we left he was talking in the ambulance and back to normal,” said Neal.
The father of four said it was an especially nerve-wrecking situation as one of his sons was the same age as the boy he was helping.
“You just want to do the best for kids all the time because they have so much life to live,” said Neal.
The Turlock native’s actions were recently recognized by the California Emergency Medical Services Authority, which presented Neal with a Lifesaving Medal at their annual awards ceremony on May 17.
“This outstanding group of EMS providers, first responders, and citizens have demonstrated a commitment to service, outstanding clinical interventions, and in many cases acts of courage, that truly deserve public recognition,” said Elizabeth Basnett, Acting Director of the California Emergency Medical Services Authority, about the 56 Californians honored for their heroic acts and extraordinary contributions at the event.
While Neal was happy to accept the award, he said that he “just did what anyone would do at the time.”
Neal has been a member of the Oakland Fire Department for past seven years and served with the City of Monterrey Fire Department for nine years prior to that, but his passion for fighting fires and helping others began as a student at Turlock High School.
At 16, he was part of the City of Turlock Fire Explorer program and when he turned 18, Neal joined the Turlock Fire Reserves.
“That’s where I fell in love with the fire department,” he said.
Heroism runs in Neal’s family, as his twin brother was recently presented the Department of Homeland Security Secretary’s Award with Valor for his actions during a harrowing rescue at sea as part of the U.S. Coast Guard crew out of Air Station Sitka, Alaska.