Fire department honors hero: Bellevue restaurant owner who saved drowning boy

Fire department honors a life saver: Bellevue restaurant owner who saved drowning boy

Local chef and restaurateur Dan Thiessen received a Citizens Award for Merit on Wednesday for helping to save the life of a young boy who nearly drowned. Thiessen performed CPR on the boy poolside until he started breathing again on his own.

The Bellevue Fire Department issued the award to Thiessen at Fire Station 1 south of downtown.

“You saved our crews from a lot of stress by doing the hard work first,” Battalion Chief Marty LaFave told Thiessen.

Thiessen, who owns and operates three Bellevue restaurants – O/8 Seafood Grill, the Twisted Cork and Stir Martini and Raw Bar, said being able to save the eight-year-old boy confirmed the value of the CPR training he’d been required to take for his job.

The incident occurred on July 1, when Thiessen was walking by an outdoor swimming pool at a condominium complex just north of downtown Bellevue. He heard a commotion and saw that someone was at the pool edge with the listless body of small boy who had just been pulled from the water.

“I immediately checked for a pulse and found none, so I started CPR right away,” said Thiessen. He continued CPR for about five rounds of compressions and breathing when he again checked for a pulse.

“I found a pulse, but still could not get the kid to breathe.” He continued to assist breathing for the child about six more times.

“I’ll never forget the sound of air passing into water-filled lungs,” said Thiessen.

The boy finally started breathing on his own. Thiessen then had the awareness to make the first call to 911 and get emergency crews to the scene.

By the time emergency crews arrived, the child was breathing and responding to his mother. The family later reported that doctors found no brain damage and that the boy would fully recover.

How does Thiessen account for his decisive action in the stressful situation?

“I grew up on a farm and I have seen just about everything,” he replied.

He admits, though, that he has never used life-saving skills on a person before. Thiessen took CPR training because restaurants are required to have some employees trained in the skill. He said that he has heard many stories from employees and coworkers who have helped people who were choking or with medical problems.

“You never know that the little thing you do can end up saving a life,” Thiessen said.