Naval District Washington (NDW) Fire and Emergency Services Indian Head Company received a special thank you at a socially-distanced ceremony on Feb. 16 for a “once a career” call that saw them welcome a new life into the world. The peaceful face of Zhyion, two weeks old, belied his too-exciting grand entrance Feb. 2, when the team of eight firefighters received a call for mutual aid from the Town of Indian Head.
Jaekia Singleton, Zhyion’s mother, was taking a bath when labor contractions arrived suddenly. Indeed, the firefighters themselves barely arrived before the moment of truth. “I said catch him,” said Singleton. “He’s coming.”
With Singleton’s mother Kenya encouraging her to push, Firefighter Nick Harrison accepted the delivery. “[Zhyion’s] eyes were wide open, looking right at me,” said Singleton. “He gave out a good cry. It was awesome.”
A ride in the ambulance to the hospital for further checks on mother and baby was perhaps the only routine part of the call. “They got us to the hospital and made sure the truck was nice and warm,” said Singleton, who thanked the responders. “It was perfect. It was definitely appreciated.”After a few comfortable weeks at home, Singleton returned to thank the firefighters, accompanied by Kenya, Zhyion, and new big brother Messiah, 5. The family was joined by CAPT Todd Copeland, Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) commanding officer, Chief Craig Jackson, district fire chief, and Indian Head Mayor Brandon Paulin, who presented the group with the key to the town.
The key, said Paulin, is for this “extraordinary feat” and “the mutual aid that you guys continue to provide out in the town, out in the community. You’re often there before anyone else and that needs to be recognized, and so I present to the department the key to the Town of Indian Head.”
In Fiscal Year 2020, NSF Indian Head firefighters ran 964 mutual aid calls in the surrounding community. Across the Potomac River, NSF Dahlgren firefighters ran 431 more mutual aid calls. Mutual aid not only keeps Navy firefighters’ skills sharp and provides community service, but it also ensures community emergency assets come to the base when needed. However, the nature of emergency response means it’s a rare call that is a truly happy affair. “I highlight this because we run tons of calls,” said Jackson. “This one here is a gift. You can go 25 years and an entire career without delivering a baby. I want to thank each one of you that was on this call.”
Copeland greeted the Singletons and presented a command coin to Zhyion by way of big brother Messiah. He thanked the firefighters and recalled hearing the good news move up the chain of command as the base and region conducted an annual security drill. “That is absolutely amazing,” he said. “I’m so very proud of you.”
Each of the eight responding firefighters – Randy Feltner, Mike Gordon, Nick Harrison, Jason Jones, Mark Kaufmann, Roger Kennedy, John Price, and Matt Rogers – received a letter of appreciation from Copeland, complete with the animated stork. Bravo Zulu Firefighters and congratulations to Zhyion’s family!