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Ohio police officer saves boy on his birthday
By Tiffany Geter
VANDALIA, Ohio — With 25 years of experience as a police officer, Michael Scarpelli has encountered his share of life and death situations. But he had no idea an emergency call on March 31, would change both his life and that of 1-year-old Jamarion Jackson.
Scarpelli was on radar traffic detail in Vandalia, when he heard the distress call on a 1-year-old boy, a possible drowning victim. He said he sped to the scene since he was only two blocks away.
When he walked in the apartment, he saw the room decorated for a birthday party. He looked around to find Jamarion unresponsive on the couch. Scarpelli gave Jamarion the best gift on his birthday, a second chance at life.
"I thank God he was here to save my son's life," said Jamarion's mother, Danielle Norfleet.
While Scarpelli downplayed his heroics, the city did not. On June 13, he became the seventh recipient of the city's Distinguished Service Medal. The award was created in 1990 to honor officers who went beyond the normal call of duty to save a life. Terrell Jackson said he was bathing Jamarion and his other son, Jayden, when he left them alone in the tub for a few minutes to get their clothes. When he returned, he found Jamarion laying under the water on his back in the tub. The father said he initially administered CPR to Jamarion.
Scarpelli said he "realized I was only two blocks away from the scene, and when I got there the medics hadn't arrived yet."
"I knocked on the door, the dad answered, and when I walked in, the baby was laying on the couch. His lips were blue and his pupils were fully dilated and he wasn't breathing."
He said he quickly placed his left hand under Jamarion's back and started chest compressions. "I continued chest compressions until I heard Jamarion gasp for a breath," Scarpelli said.
Scarpelli then turned Jamarion onto his right side until water came out, and then the officer started pushing on the child's back to force out more water.
"I heard Jamarion inhale a large breath, cough, and then I could feel his heart beating," Scarpelli said.
Once he was notified by dispatch that the medics were outside, Scarpelli wrapped the baby in a blanket and gave him to the paramedics.
"I'm very thankful to him for saving my son's life," Jackson said.
"Officer Scarpelli is a veteran officer with a great deal of knowledge and experience," police Chief Douglas Knight said. "He handles incidents calmly and with skill.
"I'm absolutely pleased with the work he does for the people of Vandalia. Mike is a fine police officer and has helped to make Vandalia a safer community."
Scarpelli, a Dayton native, lives in Vandalia with his wife and three sons.
"I'm glad I had the (CPR) training that I did because it makes all the difference in the world," he said. "I am extremely fortunate that I was where I was at that time."
Scarpelli said he has administered CPR to many victims but never to anyone as young as Jamarion.
"This incident is in the top five, maybe even the No. 1 incident that's most rewarding for me because it's you or nothing," Scarpelli said. "It feels wonderful to give a person the gift of life."
Copyright 2011 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.