A Pensacola Police Department officer was already in-route to a different disturbance when his path put him in the right place at the right time last month to save a girl’s young life.
When PPD Officer Kyle Skipper heard dispatchers on his radio announce that a 3-year-old girl had been found floating in a swimming pool near his location, he immediately turned his cruiser in her direction — with thoughts of his own child passing through his mind.
“My daughter is 3 years old too,” Skipper told the News Journal. “On the way there, they put it out over the radio: ‘Three-year-old found floating in a pool.’ Yeah, I thought about it, I thought, ‘That’s the same age as my daughter.’”
The PPD on Monday credited Skipper’s quick actions along with the heroics of fellow Officer Robert Lindblom with saving the life of that unconscious toddler who was found floating in a backyard pool on June 13.
Skipper was the first officer to arrive on scene, and footage taken from his body camera showed him sprinting through decorative shrubbery behind the residence on his way to a backyard pool.
“Of course, I was thinking about my own daughter who is the same age,” Skipper said. “But at the same time, you have to forget that stuff. You have to compartmentalize it; you can’t dwell on that. If you do, that may be your half-a-second reaction time or your thought process that you need. You have to stay focused on the situation you’re in.”
When Skipper arrived, the girl’s grandmother was attempting to perform CPR on her granddaughter who was not breathing and remained unresponsive.
“Oh my god!” the grandmother yelled, catching sight of the approaching officer on the body camera footage. “Please Hurry!”
Skipper began hitting the toddler’s back, trying to clear her airway.
Lindblom then arrived at the home, and he and Skipper began to prepare an automated external defibrillator, said PPD spokesman Mike Wood.
In a written release, Wood described how the incident unfolded. Body camera footage obtained by the News Journal showed the child’s hands and feet turning purple as police desperately attempted to get her to breathe.
Both officers could be seen on the camera footage crouching over the girl and tapping her back as she lay on her side near the pool, her appendages turning darker shades of purple.
Finally, she took a first, small breath.
“OK! OK, baby. Come on!” Lindblom exclaimed in a moment of relief.
The officers continued to coax the toddler with their words and patting hands to continue to breath as they wait for EMTs to arrive.
“The officers laid the child on her side in an attempt to keep her airway clear,” Wood wrote. “The officers used their fingers to clear vomit from the child’s mouth, and the child began breathing better and began to move.”
The little girl was transported to a local hospital.
The attending pediatrician noted that without the efforts of Skipper and Lindblom, she would not have survived the near-death experience.
On Monday, Wood told the News Journal that the toddler has since made a full recovery.
Last week, Skipper was able to visit the girl at her home.
“She came up and gave me a big hug,” he said. “And we sat there for a while and played with her toys.”