Volunteers give one last act of kindness

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Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 12:00 am

Almost every day after school, you can find Sean Piatt at a fire station.

More often than not, he’s at La Vista’s District 1 station.

The 18-year-old rides his bike to the station, where he knows the volunteers by name, and admires the trucks.

But Sunday, the firefighters and fire trucks came to Piatt.

Nine volunteers drove two trucks and one rescue squad to 7818 Terry Drive to wish Piatt well after responding to a rescue call for him the week before.

On March 17, La Vista and Ralston crews were called to the address for a medical call.

Piatt and his mother, Melisa Amato, were sitting in his room when she noticed he was holding his breath. His tongue flopped over to the left side of his mouth and the left side of his body became stiff.

Crews were able to keep Piatt calm and comfortable.

“When they came, they had him comfortable in the backseat because they know him,” Amato said. “He’s a part of the team.”

Piatt was taken to Midlands Hospital where he was in a catatonic state.

He often suffers from mental breakdowns due to bipolar disorder, Amato said.

This time, Piatt was having a hard recovery.

His grandmother, Ruth Piatt, decided to take to friends and family on Facebook. Ruth Piatt posted on her page asking for firefighters to send cards to Sean.

Cards and T-shirts from across the country were sent to their house. And local firefighters started showing up there, too. A Millard firefighter dropped off a helmet for Piatt. Doug Donaldson from the La Vista Volunteer Fire Department also showed up.

“It brought him back,” Ruth Piatt said. “It takes awhile for his brain to heal. He’s a loving kid.”

And Donaldson took it one step further — he helped to organize Sunday’s group visit to Piatt.

“This just encompasses the spirit of the volunteers,” said District Chief Vicki Pfeifer. “He is always up at District 1.”

The trucks parked in front of the house with all of the bells and whistles — or rather, lights and sirens.

Piatt was greeted by the crews and presented with a get-well card, a certificate and gear, including a T-shirt and sweatshirt.

With the outsourcing of the La Vista department to Papillion, the La Vista volunteers were able to keep their helmets. Donaldson decided to give his to Piatt.

Piatt also got an extra surprise: a ride through Central Park in the front seat of the fire truck.

“This is the best day of my life,” Piatt said while climbing into the truck. “I think this is the best day of my life of any experience I’ve had.”

After he gave Pfeifer directions to the park, Piatt talked with Donaldson about his first day back to school at Papillion-La Vista High School after his hospital visit, summer plans and April Fool’s Day pranks.

With the lights and sirens on, Piatt waved and greeted family, friends and neighbors on the way back up Terry Drive.

“It felt pretty awesome,” Piatt said of his ride in the truck. “It was the best thing I’ve ever gotten.”

Piatt has loved fire trucks since he was about 4 years old, his grandmother said.

“It’s not about him seeing a fire,” she said. “It’s always been about the trucks, the firefighters and what they do.”

Every Halloween, Piatt dresses as a firefighter. He reads firefighter magazines and watches every firefighter movie available. He knows all of the ranks and all parts of the trucks. When the garden hose comes out for the spring and summer seasons, Piatt puts out pretend fires in the front yard.

Piatt calls his grandmother every day. They discuss their days — work and school — but every phone call ends with the same question: Did you see any fire trucks today?

“This was above and beyond,” Ruth Piatt said of the La Vista volunteers’ efforts.

While Piatt most often visits the La Vista station, he’s no stranger to the Papillion department. He sometimes rides his bike down to Papillion’s downtown station at West Second and North Adams streets.

Piatt’s frequently visited District 1 fire station location at 8110 Park View Blvd., is now the Papillion Fire Department’s Station 4.

“It just shows the heart of the volunteers we have in La Vista,” Pfeifer said. “It’s just great that we could do the last act of kindness before our last day. We’re all sad to leave. We love serving residents of La Vista.”

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