Water rescue gets personal for off-duty firefighter


by Brian Farrell


Posted on August 16, 2012 at 12:39 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 16 at 12:40 AM

NEWPORT NEWS -- Master Firefighter-Medic Michael Small and his wife spent the day with their friends Kevin and Karen Davis on the Davises' boat. It was a good day in July until the time came for the Smalls to leave the boat and the marina in Hampton where it was.

"Was on the way leaving, going up the gangplank to leave, and heard a splash," recalled Small. "I was like, 'Did he drop the cooler?' Looked back, and the cooler was still on the boat."

Kevin Davis, an assistant principal at Kecoughtan High School, was not. He slipped, falling into the water, hitting his head in the process.

Davis' wife screamed, so did Small's. Small jumped into the water, diving beneath its surface three times before reaching his best friend.

"He wasn't breathing. Soon as I got his head above water, I slapped him on his back, and he spit up water for days, it seemed like. It was, like, 3 or 4 minutes while we were still in the water," Small told 13News.

The firefighter-medic got Davis to the boat, boosted him up while Davis' wife pulled. Once on the deck, Davis spit out more water. He knew who he was. He knew where he was. He knew what time of day it was. Everything seemed all right, and Davis said he wasn't going to the hospital.

Small and the others there insisted that he go.

"When they took an X-ray of his chest, his lungs were full of water," said Small. "That night, when they induced the coma, the doctor told Mrs. Davis, Karen, 'Get the family here. We don't know whether or not he's gonna make it.'"

Davis spent several days in the hospital. He is back at work and ready for another school year.

Small and other emergency workers said anyone who finds himself/herself in a similar situation involving water always should get checked out fully and never assume because he/she feels okay that he/she is.