If your house is at all like mine, there are super heroes somewhere. We have the standard Marvel heroes, the Army guys, the Ninja Princess (great book), Greek Gods and Goddesses. We also have an Army hero in Daddy, and we wave to the heroes at the fire station that we pass every morning. Nana is a hero because she’s a nurse, and the guy next to us is a hero because he adopted kids that needed a home. I think if you ask any hero, they’d tell you they wish they didn’t have to be one. Sure, they’re glad to have their powers, but they’d rather not have to use them the way they do. I know that is how I felt the day I had to use my own special power. This is a very personal story, and I’m telling it at the risk of being judged, but if it encourages just one person to be prepared it will be worth it. Let me start by saying that there are lots of things we can do to try to prevent accidents from happening, but in the end, they happen and it is so important to be prepared for that. Some of you may read this and say, “It’s not your fault.” Some will think, “How in the world did you let that happen.” And both thoughts are also mine, but I hope all of you will read this and arm yourselves with this super power.
In January I decided to join my husband on a trip to Fort Campbell. He travels a lot for his work, so when he asked if we wanted to come with him for an exercise I jumped at the chance. It meant living in a hotel room…for 3 weeks…with our two young children…with only two beds and a mini fridge, and I couldn’t have been more excited. I spent months planning activities for the kids and me to do during the day. We started most mornings at breakfast with twenty other soldiers in the lobby and then a swim in the pool before taking off on excursions around Kentucky and Tennessee. This Monday was no different. We ate, told Daddy goodbye and then changed into our swimsuits and, for the kids, water wings. We played and had a blast. My daughter, who had always been so timid at our own pool, was finally letting me take her off the steps and hold her about 5 feet from her comfort spot. I checked my phone and saw that it was nearly 10:00am - time to dry off and head back to the room. I got my three year old daughter out first, took off her water wings, wrapped her in a towel and set her on the chair next to my bag. I went back in to get my son. He asked if he could show me a trick, so I glanced back at my daughter and then watched as he showed me how his helicopter could recue a tank that had sunk in the ocean. The trick took about a minute and then I got him, begrudgingly, out of the pool. If you’ve met my son, you can probably envision this scene. As I was grabbing a towel, he said to me, “Mama, where’s Milly?” I looked at the chair and she wasn’t sitting there.
We were standing at the shallow end of the pool when I spotted my daughter in her bright purple swimsuit at the bottom of the deep end. I won’t even try to describe the emotion because there are no words. I ran to the other end. I jumped in and swam down. I grabbed her by her suit and hoisted her up on to the edge. At the moment I was thinking of nothing but keeping my daughter alive, but later the image kept coming back to me. Her eyes were open. She was pale. Her lips were blue. She wasn’t moving down there at the bottom of the water. She wasn’t breathing when I brought her up. I’m not going to tell you I didn’t panic. I did. I screamed at her and yelled, “No! No! No!” But I immediately picked her up and went running out to the lobby while calling for someone to call 911.
The manager of the hotel leaped over the front desk as another dialed the phone. While I was running Milly started to expel water but she still wasn’t breathing. I laid her down and began chest compressions as the manager went to get my son (who was still in his water wings but in the room with the pool). I pumped on my daughter’s chest. I remembered, somehow, 30 quick compressions. How deep? Two inches. I pushed harder than I really wanted to. Two inches is more than you think, but I knew it was right. One, two, three, four, BREATHE! Then, more water came up. I turned her on her side, and at that moment I saw the life come back into my daughter. The glassiness of her eyes left and she started coughing. When she finally cried, I began to shake - uncontrollably. Now, I know you need to hear the rest of this story, but let me pause here to tell you that I am so thankful for a lot of things from that day, but, most of all, I am grateful for the guidance, many years back, that drove me to become CPR certified and the clarity of mind and confidence to be able to use that skill.
The police arrived first. By this time we were all wrapped in towels and blankets, and Milly was alternating between crying and trying to sleep. The hotel staff had taken my son to our room and got him dressed, and the desk attendant stayed on the phone with 911 the entire time. Someone offered to hold Milly for me so I could get dressed, but there was not a force in nature that could have pried that child from my arms. When the EMTs arrived they took her straight to the ambulance and told me to follow them to the hospital on Fort Campbell. I gave the police my husband’s name and rank and they said they would find him. Later I found out that the Military Police had escorted him out of his exercise, able to only tell him that his daughter had drown they were taking him to the hospital. When I found Milly, she had been dressed in a tiny hospital outfit and was being connected to monitors. She looked so small, so scared, but alive. The staff, I understood, were now concerned with post drowning risks.
I wanted to see my husband so badly, but I was so afraid he was going to be angry. Wasn’t this my fault? How had I let this happen? Then he came through the sliding glass door. He saw his daughter, hugged her, and hugged me. I told him what had happened, and do you know what he said to me? “Thank you for saving her.” I may not have been able to prevent this horrible accident from happening. I wish I had. But I did know how to react, what to do, and how to do it. So, how did it happen? I didn’t want to bring it up to my daughter, but she started talking about it on her own around 4 hours into our hospital stay. She told me that she wanted to get closer to watch Andrew’s trick (meaning she got up as soon as I looked back and could have been under water for up to two minutes) and that she sat down and then slipped into the water (which is why I didn’t hear a splash). She said she was trying to call for me but no sound came out. Try hearing that from your child without throwing up in your mouth. Two days later we went back to the pool. She still talks about what happened, but always ends the story with “Mama got to me and I’m okay.”
Please consider reaching out to one of the resources listed below to take a CPR certification course. Encourage your place of work to host an onsite course for everyone. Talk to your babysitters about whether they are CPR Certified. I also want to let you know that here, at Spectrum Station, We currently have over 80% of staff who are trained in CPR/First Aid, which is well over the state-mandated requirement. With some new staff presently in training, we are working toward 100% staff certification, which we fully fund as a company because it is vitally important to us. There are certified and trained staff members available at all times during our operating hours.
It’s worth the time. It’s so worth the effort. And it is absolutely worth any price tag.
The American Red Cross The Red Cross offers a variety of classes from CPR to Water Safety. Visit their site, click on the type of course you are interested in from the drop down list and hit the search button.
CPR Kansas City CPR Kansas City offers Basic Life Saving (BLS) courses for medical professionals but also a CPR for the Public course
The CPR Lady The CPR Lady is a company that conducts BLS training for community members and healthcare professionals
A basic internet search will also show a variety of on-line courses you can take. While any training is better than none, I cannot advocate enough for taking a hands-on course.
Spectrum Station would like to offer the opportunity for our parents to become CPR certified with an on-site course. If you are interested in participating in a BLS course for approximately $75, please comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have had an experience where you have used BLS skills or wish you had had the skills, please comment below to help encourage one another.