MERRIFIELD, VA — It was Labor Day 2019 and Kristopher Keyser was enjoying a pool party at a friend’s house in Prince William County.
“We’d all been swimming for a couple of hours,” he said. “It was the time of day when we were all out of the pool and we were all eating dinner.”
That’s when Keyser, who works as a paramedic in Fairfax County, heard a woman crying out. He looked to the pool and saw a girl lying facedown in the water. He quickly hopped over the fence, dove in, and scooped the 4-year-old out of the pool.
“She’d been there maybe 4 minutes,” he said. “She was blue and limp and not breathing.”
After spending a few minutes trying to resuscitate the girl, Keyser directed one of his two children that were at the party to retrieve the EMT kit from his car.
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“We started to use bag-valve-mask,” he said. “Another minute of that, she started to sputter and regain consciousness. It was a good save, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. It was just being at the right place at the right time, I guess. I’m glad that it worked out the way it did.”
When the girl was fully conscious, she began calling for her mother.
Keyser transferred care to the Prince William County paramedics and took that opportunity to slip away with his two children and leave the party unnoticed.
But Keyser’s actions were noticed.
The girl’s mother contacted Keyser’s superiors at Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department and through them reached him at Station 30 in Merrifield, where he works.
Deputy Chief Richard Roatch and Capt. John Streeter recently presented Keyser with a Certificate of Valor from the department for his off-duty lifesaving efforts at the 2019 pool party.
Keyser played down the award, preferring to focus on the positive outcome of his efforts.
“The two things that I find significant are the family of the little girl, they’re still in contact,” he said. “They send me videos of that little girl swimming across the pool. She’s happy and thriving. I follow them on Facebook. The other significant thing would be that both of my kids were at the party and they saw the whole thing go down. It was kind of a reality check for them to see it and it was good.”
Before coming to Fairfax County in 2005, Keyser received his paramedic training at Creighton University in Omaha. He also spent eight years as a reservist in the U.S. Army, including one tour in Iraq.
“I love being a paramedic,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to be and something I always wanted to do. My uncle was a paramedic back in Omaha and that’s what got me into it.”