Firefighters in Florida went beyond the call of duty to help a curious 6-year-old boy after he got stuck in a tight spot.
“I went to pick him up from daycare and was in my car when one of the teachers ran out and said, ‘Everything is fine, but Gio got one of his hands stuck in a desk,'” Leah Aponte, the boy’s mother, told ABC News. “I thought it was just in a drawer or something.”
To her surprise, Gio had managed to wedge a single finger inside one of the holes within the desk.
“My son is pretty mischievous, so I thought, Oh gosh, what has Gio gotten into now?” Aponte said of her 6-year-old son.
“He has Asperger syndrome so he has a lot of heightened sensory stimulation,” she added.
Deanna Ortiz, Gio’s teacher at Southside Learning Center, said they first tried to get the boy’s finger loose themselves.
“We were trying to get it unstuck with Vaseline and some natural oils, but once we realized it wouldn’t budge after about an hour, Leah decided to call the fire department,” Ortiz said.
“One by one, the paramedics and EMTs came in. I explained to them to talk him through it since he’s sensory oriented,” Aponte said. “I’m extremely appreciative of how they responded. They were so thoughtful, considerate and courteous.”
Lakeland Fire Department Lieutenant Joey Delegge was one of the firefighters who responded to Aponte’s call. He said he wasn’t sure what to expect when he arrived at the scene.
“[Leah] explained to us that he would be very cooperative as long as we let him get involved in the decision-making process as we went,” Delegge told ABC News. “It was funny, ’cause we’re used to getting in there and calling the shots, but we had him helping us.”
Firefighters used a mirror to let Gio see what they were doing and kept talking to him throughout the process, Delegge said. They ultimately wrapped a wide ribbon around Gio’s finger to help the swelling go down and then were able to pull it out. Gio helped the firefighters the entire time.
“He just took it like a champ,” Delegge said.
The firefighters then took Gio and his 3-year-old sister out to the fire truck and gave them stuffed animals and stickers.
Gio got to explore the truck, honk the horns and turn on the sirens and lights. But it was the photo Aponte took afterward with Gio’s newly-freed middle finger raised that had all of the adults laughing.
“We went to take a picture and [Leah] said, ‘Show mommy your finger,’ so we were all laughing thinking, ‘Oh man that’d be funny,’ and then he actually did!” Delegge said.
Gio’s finger was a little red and swollen but did not need further treatment, Aponte said. The boy plans to have a spaghetti lunch at the fire station with his new friends sometime next week.
“We really enjoy sharing these types of stories,” said Janel Vasallo, the public information officer for Lakeland Fire Department. “It’s nice when we can show our community that we can do it all and really help in any situation.”