Local survivors reunite with first responders who saved their lives

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 7:25 AM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The range of a fire department’s duties was evident at an emotional reunion Wednesday between fire department heroes and the people whose lives they saved.

Demetrius Mackey and Kierra Hall’s lives nearly changed forever 10 months ago when their then two-month-old son Dario couldn’t breathe.

“It started off like any other day,” says Demetrius. “He had just eaten so I thought he was just throwing up excess milk. His eyes went back. His arms went limp.”

“All I kept saying was my baby my baby because I was in disbelief,” says Kierra.

That’s when members from the Rockford Fire Department sprang into action. They did CPR on Dario and ultimately saved his life. Dario’s unresponsiveness was caused by aspiration pneumonia, where he choked on his own spit up.

“I couldn’t have been happier to have him in everybody else’s hands,” says Kierra.

Wednesday afternoon, Dario and his family reunite with the five people from the fire department that helped save his life. Demetrius says he may not have known their names at first but remembers their service.

“I never knew it meant that much to the department. But I guess how couldn’t it? It’s just as important to them as it is to wake up as savior’s basically.”

“They said thank you there’s extremely happy that we’re there. He’s grown up and he’s hitting all his milestones and he’s moving along just fine,” says Chad Moe, who is one of the five first responders from the fire department who helped save Dario’s life.

Moe of those heroes. He says fires are only a small part of what the Rockford Fire Department does to keep the community safe.

“We handle a lot of different things in the fire department and you never know where you’re going to get so you’ve always got to be ready.”

In 2022 alone, the Rockford Fire Department responded to more than 32,000 incidents and more than 23,000 were EMS calls. Moe says he and his colleagues don’t do this for the accolades.

“I want everyone to feel comfortable with their fire department and the people that are going to come into their houses at the worst times. They got to be comfortable with us so we can do the job.”

Dario will be celebrating his first birthday next week.