KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A tragic drowning last month could’ve been much worse if it weren’t for the quick actions of an off-duty Johnson County firefighter and a healthcare worker.
The KCK Fire Department says the couple saved three lives.
Many remember the sad incident involving an 11-year-old girl who drowned after chasing a beach ball into the Kansas River.
Three of the girl’s family members rushed in after her, only to find themselves fighting for their lives against the river’s strong currents.
Andrew Eccles, a firefighter-paramedic for Johnson County Fire District 2 and his girlfriend, Breanna Shannon, a hospital healthcare worker, were fishing in a boat nearby and heard the family’s cries for help.
The Johnson County firefighter maneuvered his boat to be able to rescue an adult and two children who were face down in the water.
One of the children pulled from the river was in full cardiac arrest.
“She had no pulse, no breathing,” Eccles said. “Bree started CPR. I was trying to keep the boat safe at the same time. We were just multitasking. Bree did amazing CPR for two minutes and we had pulse and breathing when I went to recheck.”
The KCKFD honored Shannon with its civilian life saving award and Eccles also received a medal of courage.
KCK Fire Chief Michael Callahan says if the two not acted, there would have been four deaths that day.
Johnson County commissioners also thanked the couple for their heroic actions.
“They always say CPR saves lives,” Shannon said. “I guess you never really know that you need it until you have to use it. So I am thankful. You sit through the class and it’s like a boring hour of learning something. But it definitely came in handy. I was lucky to know what to do.”
Both Eccles and Shannon say they just did what they’re supposed to do, but wish they could have done more.
Shannon says anyone who gets the chance to learn CPR should do it, because you never know when you could save a life.