A crew of Santa Barbara City and County firefighters helped get children at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in the Christmas spirit on Wednesday morning.
Around 30 firefighters, dressed in Santa caps and firefighting pants, packed two elevators up to the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit.
A handful of firefighters broke off from the main group to visit Hendrix Garcia, a seven-year-old Santa Ynez boy at the hospital due to an infection that broke out after cancer treatment.
“We just got out of the hospital after a week on Friday, and we were back on Monday,” said his mother Kim Farris, who explained that she didn’t even have time to get a Christmas tree for their home in Solvang.
The firefighters took care of the problem by helping Hendrix decorate a pair of miniature Christmas trees that he can keep in his hospital room.
He told them he’s hoping for a Nintendo Switch and a fishing trip to Lake Cachuma with his “Papa” when he gets back home.
“This unit the pediatric unit has been great. They do really good work, if we weren’t able to get treatment here we’d have to go to Stanford or UCLA and so we’re honored and blessed to be right here and so close,” said Ms. Farris.
“As soon as we get out, we’ll get a Christmas tree.
“They try hard for us not to have to spend it here, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. He’s a little champ.”
Lesley Jimenez said she’s been at the hospital with her 4-year-old daughter, Alyssa, since last Wednesday.
“It’s not fun at all, especially when I have two others (children) that I’m away from,” she said as firefighters helped Alyssa decorate her tree.
Ms. Jimenez said she expects to be home soon, but she has another son who is very ill.
“We’ll be home by Monday, unless we have to come back with my son.”
County firefighter and spokesman Sam Dudley said this is just one of the many ways firefighters are giving back to the community.
“The way we see it, we’re firefighters on- and off-duty. So, this is a way for us to help out even when we’re not out doing emergency calls. We’re all off duty today, so this is all our time,” said Mr. Dudley.
Cottage Hospital’s PICU opened 25 years ago, featuring eight beds.