A Florida 9-1-1 dispatcher recently recounted guiding a family member through CPR after the harrowing near-drowning of a toddler that took place earlier this month.
On March 12, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office responded to a near-drowning call in DeLeon Springs, Florida.
According to police, a two-year-old girl was found face down in an above-ground pool by a family member who was watching several children for their mother.
The family member pulled the unconscious toddler out of the pool and immediately called 9-1-1. Unfortunately, the family member did not have CPR training, but telecommunicator supervisor Thomas Eggers was able to guide them through CPR until help arrived.
“I have a grandson, and a lot of our dispatchers also have young children, so those calls involving young children are difficult to process,” Eggers said. “I think it’s just your training and experience really. I think a lot [of the emotions] come after you’re done with the call. There’s obviously a lot of adrenaline involved when you’re taking a call like that.”
Eggers then calmly instructed the family member to turn the baby over and drain the water out before putting the baby flat on her back on a hard surface. Eggers then instructed the family member to take one hand and place it on the center of the child’s chest and to press to a depth of one inch. The family member was able to successfully perform CPR until help arrived.
When Deputy Kaelin Darcy arrived on the scene, he took over CPR before picking up the child and running her to a fire rescue crew that arrived moments later. The child was responsive and crying by the time she arrived at the hospital. The child was reported to be in serious condition but is expected to make a full recovery.
“Unfortunately, it’s not always a good outcome, so when we do get one where we are able to save somebody, it feels amazing. It’s very fulfilling,” Eggers stated.
The State Department of Children and Families was notified about the situation and an investigation is ongoing. The above-ground pool was filled with about four feet of water with a small inflatable ball floating on the surface and a ladder attached.
Despite the frightening situation, Eggers and his team made it a point to speak in a calm and clear manner. Eggers mentioned that dispatchers often have connections to the people on the other end of the phone.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), accidental drowning is a leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 4 years old. The AHA recommends that adults supervise children while they are swimming, install proper barriers around pools and teach children how to swim.
The incident in DeLeon Springs serves as a reminder of the importance of knowing CPR, especially when children are present. “It was learned the 2-year-old girl was found face-down in the above-ground pool while a family member was watching several children for their mother,” the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office stated.
In addition to knowing CPR, it is crucial to have proper safety measures in place when children are near water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that parents and caregivers should never leave children alone near water and should always provide “touch supervision” when children are in or around water, meaning that an adult should always be within arm’s reach of the child.