A Lakeland Boy’s Story of Recuperation
On the evening of September 1, 2012 at approximately 6:30 pm the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) was dispatched to a harrowing call for help, to reports of a child struck by a vehicle. 3 year old O’mantae Thomas was struck and left severely injured as a result of the impact.
Minutes after the first calls came in, Lakeland Fire Department’s Rescue 32, Engine 31, and Battalion Chief 2 arrived on scene to find that O’mantae was not breathing and had suffered life threatening injuries. LFD has highly trained Firefighter/ Paramedics on all of its units and fortunately Station 3’s apparatus and crew, which are ALS units, were on hand that day to help O’mantae.
Skilled Firefighter/ Paramedics immediately took control of the scene and provided advanced patient care as well as immediately identified that a trauma alert had to be declared and the young boy needed to be transported via helicopter to receive the timely and critical hospital care he needed. While LFD paramedics provided care to the boy and packaged him for transport, other crew members established landing zones and shifted gears to provide medical care to O’mantae’s family, who succumbed to the emotion of the event and needed medical help too.
O’mantae was left in critical condition after the accident but after two weeks in the hospital he was conscious again and by late November 2012 he was discharged from the hospital altogether. However his path hasn’t been easy, with extensive physical therapy necessary 3 times a week, even up to today, to reteach him essential skills he lost due to the injuries he sustained, like how to eat, walk, and speak. Yet he has triumphed!
The whole incident came full circle recently, when O’mantae and his family came to visit the crew at Fire Station 3 during B-Shift. They were the ones who helped save him that day. He has been successful in his physical therapy and seeing him today, it would be hard to know he had ever endured so much. Today, 6 year old O’mantae is a happy, healthy, and rambunctious little boy. Rightfully so, he has a strong relationship with and affinity for LFD’s firefighters. He enjoys getting a chance to visit with the crew that made such a difference in his recovery.
Three years later O’mantae’s story serves as an example of the power of emergency medical response and how superior emergency medical care like the services provided by the Lakeland Fire Department can truly make a difference in saving a life. It is just one of the many things that impact quality of life in Lakeland and make it a great place to live.
The crew that helped O’mantae was Firefighter/ Paramedic Mike Smith, Firefighter / Paramedic Jesse Synder, Lt. Jason Merrit, Lt. Harley Wilson, Battalion Chief James Niblack, Driver Engineer Curtis Giles, some of which are pictured with him in the photo when he came to visit with the crew in April 2015.
View a video compilation of his visit here.