He saw she was clutching several bottles of nail polish, and he asked her what colors they were. Then he had a better idea.
“I asked her if she wanted to paint my nails,” said Lloyd, 48, who has been with the North Davis Fire District for 19 years. “She absolutely lit up.”
The girl, still strapped in her seat, started slathering purple polish on his nails and fingers.
That was when Battalion Chief Allen Hadley, also a 19-year-veteran, showed up to check on the scene.
“Kevin had calmed her down and was in the process of getting his fingers painted,” said Hadley, 42. “Then I just put my hand in there.”
The girl obliged, and she began to color Hadley’s nails pink.
By this time, she was not only calm, but she was also happy.
“Every time she’d switch colors she’d get really excited,” Hadley said. “I think she would have painted our toes if we let her.”
The girl’s mother, who was about 12 weeks pregnant, was evaluated and was not injured, they said. She thanked them for helping her daughter feel better, and they all chuckled at the firefighters’ nails and took some photos.
The firefighters, who both have daughters, said the moment reminded them of when their girls were small and used to paint their nails.
They brought the photos back to headquarters and showed them around. The department put them up on Facebook, and thousands of people responded, with many thanking the firefighters for going out of their way to calm down a terrified girl. In the Facebook post, the department called it “awesome customer service to one of our young citizens.” That, and the photos of the firefighters’ manicures, were picked up by several media outlets.
North Davis Fire District Fire Chief Mark Becraft said he has been surprised at all the attention. He said he’s proud of his firefighters, and added that he has known members of the department who have hoisted a horse out of a ditch and others who stopped on their way back from a call to spontaneously help an elderly woman mow her lawn. Those things aren’t part of the job, he said, but happen more frequently than people know.
“It’s so nice to hear people still care,” Becraft said.
After the fact, Lloyd and Hadley had a small matter to tend to: the layers of polish heaped on their nails. They bought a bottle of nail polish remover, and used almost all of it.
“Mine took close to an hour to get off with Q-Tips and elbow grease,” Lloyd said.