It’s summer. Kids are out of school and in pools.
Here is an email from a friend who saved his 4 year old son after he had drowned (or nearly drowned) in a friend’s pool… It can happen anywhere and anytime. A story that fortunately had a happy ending because people acted quickly. (Note: This is a true story but the the names were changed.)
From: “Alan Smith”
Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 8:54 AM
Subject: Michael nearly drowned Sunday
If you didn’t hear, my four year old son Michael nearly drowned Sunday.
He’s finally home recovering after spending two days in the Pediatric ICU. I wanted to send this email both to let my friends and family know what happened, and also to pass on the lessons my wife Elsee and I learned.
We had just arrived at a friends house Sunday and couldn’t wait to get into the pool on the 95 degree day. Within ten minutes, there were three adults and four kids in the water having fun. This was not a big party where you sometimes read about how a child drowns right in front of 50 people. Honestly, I can see how that could happen.
It was me, Elsee and Rob, the owner of the house, in the shallow end of the pool. The four boys were spread out throughout the pool. Two can swim, two can’t.
The next thing we know, my eight year old son Ronald, who happens to be on the swim team, noticed his brother floating face up under the water. He went to Michael and was trying to hold him over the water when Elsee spotted this going on and quickly realized something was terribly wrong.
She yelled to me and I ran over to get Michael. His face was turning blue and he was foaming at the mouth. In what seemed like HOURS, I was trying to check his breathing and calling his name to wake him up. I honestly expected him to wake up. WAKE UP, MICHAEL! He wasn’t waking up.
I was afraid that once I started CPR, it meant this was really happening. With the three adults near by, and the other three adults in the house not aware of what was happening, the words of the instructor of the CPR class that I just took TWO MONTH PRIOR were in my head: “He’s already dead, DO SOMETHING!”
I yelled for someone to call 911, which Elsee immediately conveyed to Katina (the homeowner). Then I startedchest compressions. I was worried that I couldn’t remember the new “rules” on how to do CPR. They actually just changed the guidelinesagain (see the link below). So I started off with 30 chest compressions, at which point John, another guest at the house and NYC cop and volunteer fire fighter, ran over and immediately started the breathingpart of CPR.
We worked on Michael for what I estimate to be 90 seconds (but who knows), stopping only to turn him on his side and clear the vomit from his mouth a few times. Then… he started to cry! HE’S CRYING! I haven’t heard him cry like that since the day he was born. HE’S CRYING! THANK G-D HE’S CRYING!
A Suffolk Police Officer was first on the scene as I recall, and within seconds there were many, many EMS, firemen and policemen standing over us; each holding an AED and other rescue gear.
Michael was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Islip (we were in Commack at the time) because they have a strong Pediatric ICU department. Everyone there was terrific; wonderful. I cannot say enough about them!
Michael, my Michael– he’s a terrific patient; always has been. He put up with the neurological exams every two hours, the treatments, the tubes, wires and literally dozens of doctors and nurses that came to see him over the next two days. He has a way of deeply touching everyone he’s around. He’s just a sweet boy. A pleaser, as his mother says. To the point where he doesn’t complain even when he should!
So with fluid in his right lung, which is also partially collapsed, his spirits sky high and being all excited about “graduating” from pre-school today from XXXXXX School, he’s home. He’s home because:
– Ronald spotted him floating in the water.
– Elsee saw something was terribly wrong.
– We called 911.
– I started CPR.
– John ran over to help perform CPR.
– Every emergency and medical provider did their job.
– And in concert, we all performed a miracle!
I thank every single person I saw, met (and those I didn’t see or meet) over the last few days that helped. Thank you, my friends, neighbors co-workers and family members who called and offered your support.
Thank you xxxxx and xxxxxx for teaching the CPR class.
Thank you XXXXXXXXXXXX Little League for offering the CPR class at no cost to the coaches.
So what is the point of this email other than being therapeutic for me to write? I said at the onset that I wanted to share a few lessons Elsee and I learned. Hopefully they WILL help you:
– THIS WAS TOTALLY PREVENTABLE! That’s the scariest and most valuable part. We were right there IN the pool with Michael, but yet for a few seconds, we didn’t notice that he slipped on the drop-off at the beginning of the deep end. (Michael told us he was reaching to recover Ronald’s goggles for him.)
– Call 911! I cannot tell you how that basic step is so easily overlooked. Because of how it became ingrained in my head from the class, I called out for Elsee to call 911. I honestly don’t think it would have dawned on me to do that without practicing it in class. Amazing as that sounds, it’s the truth.
– Do something, because he’s already dead! Every time I think it, I get the chills and start to cry.
– And lastly, attend a CPR class. They’ve actually changed a lot of it since 9th grade health class (30/2 now, not 5/2)! They even changed it since I took the class a few months ago recommending compressions-only as an acceptable method. Also, there are some great web sites and flyers to read on the subject. Just reading it once in a while could be helpful.
But remember, at the time of an emergency, there are no instructors grading or critiquing what
you’re doing. Did I do it right? Could I have done it alone without John’s help or vice versa? If we did nothing but wait for 911responders would Michael be alive today? Would he have brain damage? Who knows. What I do know, is that I’m bringing my video camera today because I’m sure it’s going to be a tearful, happy day!
Here’s a great link with concise CPR instructions:
Also, the children’s ICU at xxxxxxxxxxxxx, has a new play room. It even has a cool outdoor roof-top play area. Michael was SO excited to go there every day. They accept all kinds of donations. Michael told me they are lacking in the Thomas the Tank Engine department and he
wants to give them some of his toys. 😉
Thanks for reading.
PS I tried to email this to my friends and family that have young kids or grandkids. If I missed anyone, please feel free to forward this note to anyone you think may benefit from reading it. Thanks.
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