Soon after three-year-old Asher Shell arrived at the workplace of his father – Boynton Beach firefighter Chris Shell – the station received an emergency call and his dad had to go.
So much for taking-your-child to work day.
“Asher started crying and said, ‘I want to go and do calls with you and save lives,” Chris, 34, remembers. “I said, ‘Don’t worry buddy, we’ll give you your own call.”
Once back at their Wellington home, Chris and his wife Jenna, 32, gave Asher the opportunity to save lives. They made a video of their two sons getting an emergency call, with big brother Ari, 5, driving a state-of-the-art motorized fire engine down the driveway.
The video, which shows Asher extinguishing a fire and then performing CPR on a child-sized dummy, went viral and gave Asher an instant celebrity status.
It has since aired on news shows nationwide and internationally. The family has been written up in the United Kingdom and appeared on the A&E television show “Live Rescue” this week.
“After I saw how the video went viral and everybody loved it, the biggest picture about the whole video is that if a three-year-old can do CPR, anybody can do CPR and we should all learn it because you could save someone’s life,” Chris says.
Jenna was surprised by the buzz, but sees its potential to help.
“One little fun video that we did, turned into something that was viewed by everybody, that was pretty shocking to all of us,” Jenna says. “Being in the industry that we are, it’s surprising that people don’t know how to do proper CPR. It’s just a very important tool to know. At any point, someone that you love could need it, and instead of panicking, you can help save their life.”
Chris, who has lived in Florida since he was 14, says his interest in fighting fires began at his sons’ ages when his family still lived in New York.
“Growing up as a kid always seeing the fire stations and meeting firefighters, they were just really nice,” he said.
Serving the community runs in the family. Jenna is a dispatcher for Boca Raton, while her mother is a nurse and her father is an emergency helicopter pilot. Her brother is a police officer. With two active children and busy schedules as emergency responders, managing schedules is tough.
“We strongly rely on her parents to help us out,” Chris says.
The boys have plenty of role models, Chris says.
“Asher without a doubt is going to be a firefighter probably. Ari sees the police car and thinks they can go really fast. I just want them to be happy and do what they want to do. That’s all that matters,” he said.
Chris teaches CPR to the public and emergency personnel. “People always ask me, is CPR hard? I tell them it’s easy. I tell them both my kids know how to do CPR.”
The video continues to delight viewers. What do the boys think of the attention?
“They love it,” Chris says. “They get so excited. The biggest message we’re trying to spread, is if a three-year-old can learn CPR, anyone can learn CPR. It’s awesome, it really is, because it was just a simple video that we did for my son.”
This story originally published to palmbeachpost.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network via the Florida Wire. The Florida Wire, which runs across digital, print and video platforms, curates and distributes Florida-focused stories. For more Florida stories, visit here, and to support local media throughout the state of Florida, consider subscribing to your local paper.
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