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Banner Thunderbird Medical Center presents award to first responders for life-saving actions

Phoenix Fire, police acted quickly to get 22-month-old near-drowning victim to hospital

PHOENIX (June 16, 2021) – A couple months after 22-month-old Justin Alvarez nearly died after falling into a backyard pool, the basketball-loving boy had the chance to meet the first responders who helped save his life during a ceremony honoring them. It was a moment that was especially rewarding for the first responders, who were ecstatic to see Justin after having made a full recovery. 

Banner Thunderbird presented the Life Saving Award to Captain Berry Morgan, Richard Robnett, Anthony Adelman, Matt Votow, Captain Michael Curtis, and Kyle Coffey from Phoenix Fire Department Rescue 33 and MR 154, and Phoenix Police Officer Shelby Meinhardt, for their quick response and actions that helped save Justin. 

Officer Meinhardt, who recently graduated from EMT school, performed CPR on Justin for nearly two minutes before EMS responders arrived. Justin was then brought to the emergency department at Banner Children’s at BTMC, where he was intubated and then taken to the pediatric intensive care unit. The boy’s tiny body was cold. His heart beat slow and he showed signs of potential brain injury. But Dr. Rahul Chawla, a pediatric intensivist, and his team worked quickly to save him. By the next day, Justin recovered well enough to have his breathing tube taken out — a joyous sight compared to the one his parents saw in the pool the previous day.

Now, the young boy is living a healthy, normal life with his family once again because of the exceptional actions, care and coordination from Phoenix Fire, Phoenix Police and Banner Thunderbird.

As summer approaches and we spend more time around the pool, it’s important to remember to always keep a close eye on your children around water. Banner Health encourages everyone to keep in mind these drowning prevention tips.

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About Banner Thunderbird Medical Center

Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, Arizona, specializes in heart care, surgical services, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency and trauma care, behavioral health, cancer care, rehabilitation and pediatrics, including the West Valley’s only pediatric intensive care unit, pediatric Emergency department and Level III neonatal intensive care unit. Banner Thunderbird also operates a Level I Trauma Center for patients ages 15 and older. The hospital is part of Banner Health, a nonprofit health system with 30 hospitals in six states. For more information, please visit

[email protected] (business hours)
602-727-3080 (nights, weekends, holidays)

Awards Banner Health Banner Thunderbird Medical Center Critical Care Pediatric

For further information contact us at: [email protected]

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