Oakland firefighter saves baby at state park

Andrew Bell

OAKLAND — Andrew Bell was swimming at Swallow Falls State Park on Sunday when he heard a woman scream for help.

As a volunteer with the Oakland Volunteer Fire Department, his instincts kicked in and he swam over to see what was the matter.

In the water, Bell recalled Tuesday, he found an unconscious baby, which, when he turned over, spit out water. After making sure the baby was breathing, he called for an ambulance. 

"I was actually swimming there and I jumped off a rock and I heard her screaming, so I swam over to see what was wrong," Bell said. "The baby was under water, (I) picked it up, it was unconscious, so I put it on its back for a little bit and it started spitting up water and I called the squad and they responded out."

As an Oakland local, Swallow Falls State Park happens to be one of the places where he swims. His response, he said, was him just doing his duty.

"Me as a first responder, I feel like it's my duty to do it, even if we don't get alerted to it," Bell said. "It's still my duty to go help that person."

Bell started volunteering at 16 years old and has been with the Oakland department for seven years. His father is the chief and is one of the reasons he joined. From there Bell found that he liked it.

"This is just volunteer here in Oakland," he said, adding he hopes to land a full-time firefighting position.

Bell's currently part of the Garrett County swift water rescue and hazardous materials teams. He also responds with the county search and rescue team and has been awarded twice for performing CPR. 

"Quite honestly, it feels really good to me because he's my son. It's something that's really good as a parent and a chief," said John Feather, the Oakland chief. "This isn't the first thing he's done like that."

Feather said Bell found a dumpster on fire in Morgantown, West Virginia, a few weeks back and contacted the local fire department while keeping the fire at bay. 

"It's one of those situations where there's a need. With his training, he'll do what needs to be done," Feather said. 

Bell called Feather, who was on the response team, to tell him what happened as they responded.

"I've got a good group of men and women," Feather said.

Follow staff writer Brandon Glass on Twitter @Bglass13.

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