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Teen Visits Margate, Fla., Fire-Rescue Crew Who Saved His Life

MARGATE, Fla. -- Kealan Joshua Lalanne's field trip to Margate's Fire Station 3 Sunday was all about saving a life: his own, something six firefighter-paramedics accomplished when the 14-year-old's heart stopped beating 10 weeks ago.

Kealan visited the Florida first responders to express his appreciation and was shown the ambulance and equipment that jump-started his young life after an apparent allergic reaction nearly halted it forever.

Embraces were immediate when Kealan and his father, James Lalanne, greeted Battalion Chief Ty Vassil and paramedic-firefighters Raul Santana, Jeff Dyer, Matt Whiteshield, Fabian Marrero and David Nyenbrink in the truck bays of the station.

"You guys are awesome. I can't thank you enough for what you did," Lalanne said.

Kealan told the men he was doing well.

Later, he said, "They told me that not a lot of people who had cardiac arrest survive, so I wanted to say, 'Thank you.'"

On Dec. 23, DeAndra Clark Lalanne bought some lo mein from a favorite Chinese restaurant for her son, an eighth-grader at Lyons Creek Middle School in Coconut Creek. He is asthmatic and allergic to peanuts and seafood, soybeans and possibly some unknown ingredient that was in his lunch that day.

Kealan joined his father and neighbors for a game of 21 at the nearby basketball court, but the youngster could not catch his breath, even after using his inhaler. Lalanne carried his son home across a large field to their third-floor apartment, where the child collapsed. The parents felt helpless as Kealan began vomiting and his father started CPR.

A Coconut Creek police officer and the six Margate firefighters responded to the 911 call and found Kealan on the floor, unresponsive.

"I'm watching the Lifepak [EKG] monitor go from 60 to 40 to 26 to where he had no pulse at all," said paramedic-firefighter Matt Whiteshield. "We started our medications for a flat line, and after about two minutes of CPR, he had a pulse back."

Kealan's lungs were collapsed and he was not breathing on his own.

The Lalannes thought their son was dying. "He is our only child," said DeAndra Clark Lalanne. Kealan was taken to Northwest Medical Center and then to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, where he stayed for nine days.

Kealan, who has a baseball hat with the station's embroidered heartbeat logo, endured a seizure and still requires medication. He also undergoes biweekly physical and occupational therapy.

His father credits the four-minute response time of Station 3's crew, which had 40 years' combined experience, for saving his son's life.

"They've allowed our dreams for him to continue," Lalanne said. "Our dreams for him to go to college, seeing him married, to have kids."

Kealon is babied a bit now. His mother has resumed the chores of washing and ironing his clothes. But he can't play hoops yet.

"I'm glad I'm alive," he said. "Basketball can wait."

Linda Trischitta can be reached at ljtrischitta@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4233.

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