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Girl earns kudos from first responders for quick life-saving actions

Anna Fleury, twelve years old, receives a Challenge coin and a gift certificate from first responders in recognition of her quick actions, which led to the rescue of two individuals in distress on Hay Bay. Photo via Greater Napanee Emergency Services Deputy Chief Bill Hammond.

A twelve-year-old girl is being credited by first responders with being instrumental in the successful water rescue of two individuals found in distress on Hay Bay on Friday, Apr. 29, 2022.

“Yesterday afternoon around 4 p.m. we were alerted to the possibility of an overturned boat in Hay Bay,” explained Greater Napanee Emergency Services (GNES) Deputy Chief Bill Hammond. “We responded from Station One in Greater Napanee with a Rescue [vehicle], a Pumper [truck], and myself. We also alerted the Canadian Coast Guard as well as the JRCC (Joint Rescue Coordination Centre) out of 8-Wing Trenton, that were possibly two people in the water. On the way down, we had indications that there was a civilian attempting to make a rescue with a vessel. And upon arrival, we did verify that there were two people that had been in a vessel of some sort at that point that had capsized in Hay Bay. Neighbours that owned an Argo [an amphibious all-terrain vehicle] ended up managing to extricate the two occupants of the vessel back to shore, just as we were arriving.”

Hammond explained that the quick water rescue was made possible by the keen eye and speedy response of twelve-year-old Anna Fleury. “She heard the screaming for help, ran outside and realized that there were two people in the water, and ran to get her grandmother to call 911. We believe that the little girl’s actions actually alerted all of the adults in the area of the incident and saved these two people’s lives. They were in the water for well over 20 minutes, were treated by EMS that were on location for hypothermia or signs of hypothermia, and one person was transported to hospital.”

Hammond also commended the neighbours who went out in the Argo. “They were gone by the time we arrived back up to shore,” Hammond said, praising them as well for their quick-thinking actions after being alerted by Anna.

GNES crews respond to a water rescue on Hay Bay on the afternoon of Friday, Apr. 29, 2022. Photo via Greater Napanee Emergency Services Deputy Chief Bill Hammond.

Nikki Fleury, Anna’s mother, explained that Anna, who is in Grade 6, had been spending the day with her grandmother, Deb McCann, as it was a PA day.

“My mother was down in her office doing banking and Anna was up in the great room at her house, and she heard something and looked out the window, and there were people in distress. So she went and got my mother, and my mother asked her to call 911 at that point. I think the neighbourhood kind of went into action at that time — my mother ran over to the neighbour’s house, and Anna went down the water and was calling out to the people to reassure them and let them know that help was on the way. Another neighbour, I guess, had an Argo that they took out to the water, and they were able to get the people back to shore. I think the boat was already under at that time, but they held onto the back of the Argo.”

Anna was given two tokens of appreciation from both GNES and OPP, Hammond said. “In the fire service we carry challenge coins. These coins are the representation of what we believe in, valour and bravery, honesty, loyalty… And because of her bravery, her act, we gave her one of our challenge coins.”

In addition, OPP gave her a gift certificate – part of their province-wide initiative “Operation Freeze” that rewards children and youth who make good decisions – to exchange for a frozen treat at a local convenience store.

GNES crews respond to a water rescue on Hay Bay on the afternoon of Friday, Apr. 29, 2022. Photo via Greater Napanee Emergency Services Deputy Chief Bill Hammond.


Fleury expressed pride in her young daughter’s instinct to react so quickly and appropriately to the incident. “Her dad and I are both very proud of her. That’s just who she is. She’s always been a kid that is always on the lookout for others. If you talk to her teacher or classmates, she is always the one that they go to for support when there’s an issue or somebody gets injured, she’s always very, very quick to react and help people. That’s her in a nutshell.”

“I’m just so glad that everybody’s okay and that she was there to spy them from the window and heard the cries for help,” said Fleury, explaining that the waves of Hay Bay can pick up quite quickly and unexpectedly and that the individuals in distress had been “quite a fair distance” from shore. “I’m just so happy that this is a story where they were saved and everybody’s all right and a really positive outcome for everyone.”

Deputy Chief Hammond took the opportunity following the incident to also issue a public safety message: “GNES want to remind residents that PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices) save lives.”

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