Merrill boy honored

The Merrill Fire Department on Monday formally recognized 8-year-old Cole West-Hansen, a 2nd grader at Pine River Elementary School, for his acts of courage in front of a full school assembly.
Cole was alone with his mother, Kim, when she went into labor on Saturday, March 17. He acted heroically by calling 911 to report the medical emergency. A Merrill Fire Departments ambulance was dispatched to the Merrill residence where Merrill EMT/Paramedics delivered the baby at the home and then transported both mother and newborn to Good Samaritan Hospital.
Captain Mike Drury, an EMT from the responding Merrill Fire Department, who assisted in the delivery, stated, “Not only did Cole make the call to 911, but he then went back to his mother’s side to help her until we (medical personnel) arrived.”
The Spirit (air ambulance) helicopter, from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, later transferred the infant.
“What Cole did was extraordinary and we want to not only honor him, but let other students know how important they can be in emergent situations,” said Merrill Fire Chief Bob Odegard. “This information is instilled in youngster by firefighters across the country each year and it is our belief that Mr. Jeff Zettler, a Pine River volunteer firefighter (who teaches fire prevention at Pine River School) was very instrumental in preparing Cole for this situation.”
Each year firefighters in Merrill and across the country reach out to teach kids and adults about fire safety as well as other emergency situations and how to handle them. In 2011, Merrill Firefighters reached over 1,200 students in their fire jurisdiction.
Odegard said delivering babies is a rare and stressful call for paramedics.
“We see a lot of incredibly bad things,” Odegard said. “The scariest thing we have is delivering a baby.”
Cole’s little sister, Athaliah, was born two weeks earlier than anticipated. She was born feet first, which requires an emergency delivery.
“Cole grabbed the phone and called 911,” Drury said. “We were on the scene in three minutes. If Cole had even taken a couple of minutes to call, he maybe wouldn’t have a baby sister.”
Lt. Tim Fischer of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department Dispatch Center reinforced that Cole did all the right things when he called 911 that day.
“If you have to call 911 stay calm, do what Cole did,” Fischer told the students at Pine River School.
Athaliah is doing well and weighs over 5 pounds now, from her birth weight of 3 pounds, 11 ounces.
“Cole is pretty excited about having a little sister,” said Cole’s dad, Brandon Hansen. “He’s a great big brother.”
Ironically, Merrill Fire Department paramedics had just done their refresher training on delivering babies that same day Athaliah was born, training they only do once every two years.
“Everything worked out for a reason,” Drury said.

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