There had to be a story behind the burritos-and-cake party Tuesday evening at the Graton firehouse that starred a spirited, adorable kid of 4 1/2 in a red firefighter's outfit and unabashed bliss.
He's Joshua Cazares of Santa Rosa. In June of 2009 an impromptu team of Graton and Cal Fire firefighters and Sonoma Life Support ambulance medics saved his life as it was beginning, traumatically, on a kitchen floor.
Joshua's birth mother had gone into labor while visiting people in Graton. The responding firefighters, paramedics and EMTs quickly determined the baby was several months premature, in the hazardous breech position — feet first — and showing scant signs of life.
Upon easing the blue-hued child into the world, the rescuers went to work attempting to bring him around.
"He was not breathing for at least 12 or 15 minutes," recalled Brion Borba, a Cal Fire captain.
Though there were seasoned firefighters and medical personnel on the call, none had delivered a baby — much less a lifeless one.
This was a new challenge for Borba and everyone else: Graton Fire Deputy Chief Bill Bullard, Capt. Robert Sabrowsky and firefighters Anthony Bopp, John Roche and Matt McKenzie; Cal Fire firefighters Jason Freyer and Kyler Walker; Sonoma Life Support EMT Les Mitsuoka and paramedic Rob McKay.
Reliving the scene, Borba said, "It was like, 'Lord, help get this child breathing!'"
AT LAST, a tiny sound emitted from the newborn's mouth. He took a shallow breath and quickly his skin began to turn pink.
A medical team was ready for him when the ambulance arrived at Memorial Hospital.
Joshua was diagnosed as autistic and there were fears that he would be seriously and permanently disabled. Instead, he runs like the wind and talks up a storm.
He was adopted by his grandparents, Antonio and Ardive Cazares. They brought him to the firehouse Tuesday for a reunion with his rescuers.
And, they brought the food. Antonio cooks for La Bomba taco truck and his sister, Maria Elena Reyes, operates the new La Fondita Taqueria at the Graton casino.
Ardive said through grateful tears, "I just wanted to meet the young men who saved my son's life."
Her Joshua posed with his heroes and play-drove a fire engine.
"He's our special boy," Ardive said. "He's our heart."
Graton Fire's Sabrowsky wore a pin of a stork carrying a baby. Someone from the ambulance firm gave each of the men one shortly after they delivered and saved Joshua.
"It's always on my uniform," he said.
(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and firstname.lastname@example.org.)