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On Vacation, Firefighter Saves Boy

None of the adults at a Florida pool knew how to swim. If not for a Cherokee firefighter who happened to be vacationing in Destin, FL, last week, a boy found at the bottom of the pool might not be on the road to recovery.

Everyday, Canton's Joshua Ellis saves lives.

Assigned to  Station No. 2 in Ball Ground, he tends to strangers who can't help themselves.

Saturday night was no different.

Ellis, 26, was in Destin, FL, enjoying the last moments of his vacation with his wife, Casey.

The couple placed their dinner orders.

It was around 8 p.m. when they heard a woman banging on a window overlooking the pool.

Ellis didn't know what to think. Casey Ellis rose from her seat first.

"My wife saw something in her face that I didn't and then she said my name," Ellis said this afternoon during an interview at the .

Casey Ellis walked toward a glass door. Ellis followed her. They saw people standing around the pool, then pushed open the door. Ellis doesn't know who said it, but these words forced the firefighter/paramedic to spring into action:

"My boy is at the bottom of the pool! I can't swim! Help him!"

Ellis dove in, pulled the boy to the surface and swam to the edge where a retired paramedic from Kentucky was waiting.

"I had something to do," he said, trying to explain why he jumped in the 6-foot-deep pool without blinking.

Once out of the water, Ellis and the man from Kentucky worked to resuscitate the boy, who was not breathing and had no pulse.

"I went straight into chest compressions," he said. "After 30 compressions, I asked the other medic to give him two breaths."

They stopped and checked for a pulse. If there was one, Ellis said, it was faint. They continued CPR until they could detect a "very strong" pulse.

Still, the boy's breathing was inadequate.

"It was real labored," he said. "It was work for him to breathe." 

Ellis rolled the boy to his side to clear his airway, which was obstructed by a small amount of vomit. Ellis rolled him over again and performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until he could get a decent respiratory rate.

Florida emergency personnel arrived. Ellis gave them a quick report of what happened, that the boy had been underwater for no more than two minutes, that it took three to four minutes to detect a pulse. He shared the child's vitals as well as his medical history.

And then an ambulance carried the boy to Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast, where he is currently in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery, Cherokee fire spokesman Tim Cavender said.

Ellis never caught the child's name.

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