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Calif. boy, 4, named honorary FF-medic after saving brother from drowning

Mason Ochoa jumped into action after seeing his 2-year-old brother fall into the pool through a home security system


Photo/Lynch Ambulance

Ian Wheeler
The Orange County Register

PLACENTIA, Calif. — For one day, Placentia was plus one heroic first responder, though it may take him a while to grow into his new firefighter’s helmet.

On Friday, Nov. 6, 4-year-old Mason Ochoa was officially credited with saving his younger brother from drowning in a backyard pool.

The deed occurred Oct. 20: Mason leaped into action after seeing on a home security system that his brother, 2-year-old Nicholas, had fallen into the pool.

Mason ran outside to the pool and held Nicholas by the arm while yelling for help. Hearing the cries, their mother, Stephanie, pulled the toddler out of the pool. Mason’s father, Jose, called 911, and paramedics took a shaken Nicholas to Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

“There was no serious injury, and only because Mason was brave enough to engage (and) attentive enough to realize that it warranted a response,” Placentia Fire Chief John “Pono” Van Gieson said.

During a ceremony at the city’s Fire Station No. 2, Mason was declared a “Hometown Hero” and shyly accepted praise from Van Gieson as he and other local leaders offered Mason certificates, medals and his own fire gear.

But what Mason was really waiting for was target practice with a real fire hose, to crush soda cans with the Jaws of Life and record his own heartbeat with a portable EKG as an honorary firefighter and paramedic.

Battallion Chief Jon Muir, the department’s spokesman, said the family told the department there had been a fence around the pool, but someone had removed it while the property sold. He said officials recommend always having someone assigned to watch when a pool is in use and to have gates and fences and other security measures in place.

While Mason’s real fire helmet is a bit too big and heavy now, it’ll serve as a reminder as he grows up that he saved his brother from an accident that too often ends in tragedy, officials said.

“Mason has the character traits and the innate qualities to be a responder,” Van Gieson said. “So what I’m saying to Mason now is: You hold onto this, and come see me in about 14 years and I’ve got a job waiting for you.”


(c)2020 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)