Santa Paula Times

Left Photo, Senior Officer Cody Madison hands Joshua a present. Officer Madison was the first on the scene and provided rescue breathing and revived Joshua. Joshua accidently got a rope caught around his neck. Joshua is held by his father Lee Wells as his mother Maria looks on. Above right, Santa Paula Fire Captain Dustin Lazenby places a Santa Paula Fire badge on the shirt of Joshua as his father Lee holds him (photos by Don Johnson).

Joshua: Boy welcomed home by emergency responders that saved his life

April 03, 2009
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesA timely response, teamwork and a kid’s dynamism were celebrated when Santa Paula public safety personnel paid a visit to the 4-year-old boy who was found hanging in a closet last week in his West Santa Barbara Street home.At first emergency responders didn’t believe Joshua Wells – whose face and arms had turned blue – would make it, but just a week and one day after the incident, and a few fears for his complete recovery during his hospitalization, the boy was again home … and raring to go.“If you guys hadn’t responded so quickly” the outcome would have been tragic, Joshua’s father Lee Wells told Santa Paula firefighters, police officers and AMR Paramedics involved in the life-saving incident who gathered at the Wells’ home Thursday.“Children,” SPPD Sr. Officer Cody Madison, the first on the scene told the boy’s father, “bounce back … they’re like rubber bands.”On March 24 Joshua’s mother Maria found the boy hanging from a cord in the closet … although it will never be determined exactly how it happened SPPD investigators believe Joshua had stepped onto a shoe box to reach toys on a shelf, unattached a cord fastened to a plastic flute and attached it to a wooden coat hanger.Somehow the cord draped around Joshua’s neck and when his mother found him he was standing on his tiptoes struggling to support his weight.“ … she apparently got there just in time,” SPPD Det. Wally Boggess noted after the incident last week. “Mom’s action probably saved his life.”“They were here in five seconds,” said Maria Wells who was performing CPR on her son.Madison, who said he was right around the corner when the call came in, was first on the scene and he found Joshua unconscious, not breathing and with a rapid pulse: Madison immediately started rescue breathing on the boy.Within minutes SPFD EMTs arrived on scene and paramedics from AMR Ambulance who also worked on Joshua.Madison said that he later learned Joshua started breathing again “when they were halfway” to Ventura County Medical Center.Joshua was later transported to Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles where he first spent days in intensive care until his condition improved, but not without worrisome setbacks.“He went from not being able to do anything” to getting better, then experienced seizures in his arms and legs said Lee Wells.At one point during his recovery Joshua was unable to use crayons but then “He just got better everyday” and by the third day was demanding, his father said with a laugh, “get me out of here!”“How ya doing Joshua?” AMR Paramedic David Unzen asked the boy who shyly hid his face.When it came to describing his feelings about the boy’s recovery “I can’t describe it,” as initially there were fears Joshua would not live.But then “I thought the outcome would be pretty good … he started doing a lot better halfway to the hospital. We knew then he’d be okay.”
Such an emergency is “One of the worst,” to respond to on several levels.Most medical responses are for adults: “With kids you have to regroup, use the tools,” required for the treatment of a child and also, Unzen noted, deal with the emotional impacts of such a call.“Everyone,” involved in the response he added, “did a great job.”The teamwork exhibited by all the emergency responders was according to SPFD Cpt. Dustin Lazenby, “The main thing … ”Madison, who gave Joshua Sponge Bob memory cards in a Sponge Bob gift bag, said he was pleased the boy had gone from being blue and unresponsive to “Walking around doing high five’s! The innocence factor really hits you … ”Sometimes a 9-1-1 call has a gut feeling to it and “What went through” the mind of SPPD Dispatcher Ina Tausing when he fielded the call from the frantic Maria was “help was needed right now!”Lazenby said public safety personnel thanked SPFD Chaplain Kay Wilson-Bolton for regular updates on Joshua’s progress, information not always available following a response.“You never want to go on these calls,” said Engineer Carlos Arana, the father of a four-month-old boy who gifted Joshua with a SPFD badge, “but that’s what we do … ”“Thank you, thank you,” Maria Wells told emergency response personnel.“It was God’s hand,” that Lee Wells said also helped their son, the youngest of the couple’s three children.Responders SPPD Sgt. Ryan Smith and AMR Paramedic Paul Cook were not available Thursday but Reserve Firefighters Alex Horton and Casey Belmonte who also took part in the response were on hand to visit Joshua.“It’s a true miracle,” said Asst. Fire Chief Kevin Fildes.“I have to commend Sr. Officer Madison and Sgt. Smith for their quick response, recognizing the nature of the injuries and starting emergency care … that, and the transition to firefighter EMTs and AMR paramedics was key to this child’s survival.”Basic CPR and basic airway rescue breathing, “The combination when pulled together, well the child was clinically dead when help arrived on scene.”Fildes said the effort also is a “True testament” to the effectiveness of basic life support treatment as well as to the importance of the public learning such life-saving techniques.Responders, Fildes added, “Took a situation that could have ended in tragedy and instead we have a normal, healthy 4-year-old boy.“This was definitely a team effort that made this a truly awesome day … this is why we do what we do.”