Police officers, medics and firefighters made a surprise visit to the Pierro family in east Vancouver on Sunday afternoon, bearing gifts and well-wishes that the rest of family’s holiday season will be as uneventful as possible, as a change of pace.
“It was a complete roller coaster,” Scott Pierro said of the past few weeks.
The weekend before Thanksgiving started on a high note for the Pierros. That Friday, their 6-year-old daughter, Kierra, earned her first belt at taekwondo. On Saturday, her 13-year-old brother, Alexander, earned his second-degree black belt.
That Sunday, while the two kids were playing outside, Kierra fell.
“She collapsed, right there,” Christine Pierro said, pointing at the front of the house.
Alexander found that his sister wasn’t breathing, then ran to get his parents, Christine Pierro said. They called 911 and performed CPR until an officer arrived and took over, followed by medics and firefighters.
An ambulance rushed Kierra to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, and then she was taken to Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland.
Doctors gave Kierra, who previously had surgery for a heart defect, a pacemaker.
“We spent Thanksgiving at the hospital,” Scott Pierro said.
Vancouver police Officer Tanya Wollstein said her group of officers likes to do a squad Christmas project each year, helping out a family in need, and Kierra’s case stood out, as it was one of them who responded with an automated emergency defibrillator.
Officers and firefighters responding to the call didn’t know that their patient was a small child until they arrived, as there aren’t many cardiac arrest calls for 6-year-olds, Wollstein said.
“We were pretty surprised that happened,” she said. “Definitely wanted to follow up and see how she was doing.”
The officers and their contacts in the loss prevention departments at local Target and Fred Meyer stores, City Bible Church in Vancouver, Nautilus, police and firefighters pitched in for gifts, which they dropped off Sunday.
The crowd and the surprise ended up being a bit bigger than expected. The fire crew, officer and 911 dispatcher from that Sunday showed up with gifts, along with an ambulance from AMR, two fire engines and several cop cars.
“We thought we’d invite fire and AMR, since they were the heroes here,” Wollstein said.
The kids got to scope out the vehicles and meet a police dog.
“We just wanted to give the family a great holiday. That’s a pretty scary situation. We were just happy that we could be there and be helpful with that,” Wollstein said. “She looks great. It’s a huge relief to us.”
Kierra was back home after about a week.
Scott Pierro said she’s slated to start doing some physical and speech therapy, along with continued meetings with a cardiologist.
He was floored by the outpouring of goodwill.
“It never stops to amaze that there’s so much community support of people that all fall in together and work together. We’re so busy with our lives doing things on our own and stuff, to stop and think of others … something like this, this is really hard to fathom,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of people that we can never thank enough, really, is what it boils down to.”