OCEANSIDE — On June 11, 6-month-old Zavier Stephan Morgan gurgled and wiggled in his mother’s arms as his parents, American Legion Post 146 and Oceanside Elks Lodge #1561 recognized the firefighter team that saved his life.
The heroic efforts of the firefighters began when an emergency call for medical assistance came in Dec. 18, 2013. What firefighters found when they arrived was far from a routine emergency.
Melissa Wells-Pestana was just shy of five months pregnant and going into early delivery.
Firefighter paramedic Stephan Choi delivered the tiny infant who was the size of his hand, and weighed four pounds, seven ounces. But complications arose.
The baby boy was not breathing, did not have a heartbeat and was still attached to the embryonic sac. Fire Capt. Glen Morgan stepped in to lend assistance.
He administered infant CPR on the baby. Gently and exactly he performed two-finger chest compressions.
The baby’s heart began beating, and he started breathing.
The baby was transported to Tri-City Medical Center, where he recovered after 28 days of watchful care by doctors.
The baby was named Zavier Stephan Morgan Pestana.
His middle names, Stephan and Morgan, are in recognition of the firefighters who saved his life.
At the June City Council meeting the firefighter team was awarded the American Legion Law and Order Award, Medal of Valor.
Morgan said he has delivered more than 100 babies during his 30-plus year career as a firefighter, but has never needed to perform infant CPR.
“I never had a complicated delivery,” Morgan said. “He didn’t have a heartbeat or respiration. Zavier was not looking good.
“We’re a can-do fire department, we give you everything we got. It worked out really well.”
Fire Chief Darryl Hebert said firefighters are occasionally called on to perform an emergency delivery, but complications are very rare.
“I’m glad Capt. Morgan was there with senior experience,” Hebert said. “We have a very young department. For those who haven’t had any experience with childbirth it’s very stressful.
“He took control, stepped right in and helped the outcome.”
Hebert added the positive result of saving a life is the ultimate on-the-job reward.
The firefighter team has developed a strong bond with the Pestana family. Hebert said he was glad to publicly recognize the firefighters, and share the moment and more to come with the family.
“Kindergarten graduation, high school graduation, we’ll be there,” Hebert said.
The American Legion Post 146 and Oceanside Elks Lodge #1561 joined together to award the Medal of Valor that recognizes first responders and citizens for going beyond the call of duty to help others.
Twenty-one Law and Order Awards, including five Medal of Valor Awards are bestowed annually.