BY KYNLI SMITH
Amanda Craft of Basin lived through a nightmare she never thought she would experience while at the local pool when her son stopped breathing after being found at the bottom of the pool.
Craft and her two sons, Hunter, 7, and Haakon, 4, were at the Basin pool trying to beat the heat on Saturday.
“I had taken off Haakon’s lifejacket so he could run to the bathroom,” said Craft. “I didn’t see him come back and I guess he thought he could swim on his own underwater back to me.”
Stephanie Olsen was in the pool at the time cooling off with her 5-month-old when she noticed a kid under water.
“I was walking to the ladder to hand my baby off to my mother-in-law when I saw a little boy under water a couple of feet away. At first I thought it was just a kid trying to see how long he could hold his breath underwater. But something wasn’t right; there was no movement.”
Olsen, not being able to dive underwater with her baby in her arms, used her foot to pull Haakon out of the water.
“Once I lifted him up with my foot and was able to grab him I yelled for help. I got him to the edge and his mom was there instantly lifting him up out of the water to the lifeguard.”
Craft, who was a lifeguard and trained in CPR, started performing CPR on Haakon.
“He had turned a purplish color and was started to have foam come out of his nose and mouth. Natalie helped me with CPR as Justen called 911,” said Craft.
Craft said that it took a couple of minutes to revive her son after they pulled him out of the water.
“It felt like years but it was maybe a couple of minute before we got him breathing,” said Craft. “Once he came out of it, he started screaming.”
“Normally you don’t like to hear a child scream or cry,” said Olsen. “But in this case this was the best sound any of us could have heard. It was the scariest thing I’ve experienced.”
Haakon was revived by the time the ambulance arrived to take him to South Big Horn County Hospital. Once at the hospital, doctors determined he needed to be life-flighted to Billings for observation. Because of Haakon’s age, doctors were concerned of dry drowning or secondary drowning. Both are not medical terms but are used to commonly describe respiratory complications after children may have swallowed water while swimming or even taking a bath.
With dry drowning, water never reaches the lungs. Instead, breathing in water causes vocal cords to spasm and close up, making it hard to breathe. Secondary drowning happens if water gets into the lungs. There, it can irritate the lungs’ lining and fluid can build up, causing a condition called pulmonary edema.
“The doctors in Billings were really impressed with how fast he was able to come out of it,” Craft said. “They kept us overnight for observation, but we were able to come home Sunday.”
When the family got back into town, they went to visit the two lifeguards that helped save him.
Craft said the lifeguards at the Basin pool are well trained and that these accidents sometimes just happen.
“The lifeguards did an amazing job during everything and are well trained. They handled the situation correctly. All the moms and everyone at the pool did a great job, too, getting the kids away from situation. I didn’t even know who had Hunter at the time I was doing CPR but I knew he was OK with whoever had him.”
“I couldn’t stop thinking about him all night,” said Justen Miller who called 911. “It was really scary. But it helped when he stopped by, still in his hospital gown, the next day.”
Pool supervisor Kellie Gloy says she is extremely proud of the lifeguards for handling the situation correctly.
“I was so proud of our lifeguards. They did exactly what they were supposed to do,” said Gloy. “You prepare and hope you never have to use your emergency training but they handled it really well.”
She added that two lifeguards would always be out at the pool now — one focusing on the deep end, the other on the shallow end. Even before this incident, the pool had a better lifeguard ratio that the state requires.
“We aren’t comfortable with the state ratio with 1 to 40 or so; ours is 1 to 30,” Gloy said.
Craft said she is so thankful for all the support she and her family received over the weekend.
“It does take a community to raise a child,” said Craft. “Hopefully I don’t have to do CPR to anymore of my children ever again. But if I do, I know that I can.”
Looking at Haakon, one cannot tell he nearly drowned in a pool; he is back to running around driving his brother and his sisters crazy as of Monday. Craft said that they still are keeping an eye on him and he has some follow-ups at the doctor, but other than that he is doing great.
“It is the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” said Craft. “My child needed me and I just reacted and did what he needed. It is just by the grace of God that he is here. Haakon was just a little too brave for his own good, thinking he could swim on his own.”
What to do if you find a child drowning?
Unintentional injury like drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4 according to the Center for Disease Control. In an emergency, the first priority is to get the drowning child out of the water as quickly as possible. If the child isn’t breathing place them on their back on firm surface and begin rescue breathing while someone calls 911. The following steps are not meant to replace CPR training but could help revive a child after drowning:
1. To open child’s airway,
Tilt the child’s head back with one hand, and lift her chin with the other. Put your ear to the child’s mouth and nose, and look, listen, and feel for signs that she is breathing.
2. If your child doesn’t seem to be breathing:
Infants under age 1: Place your mouth over infant’s nose and lips and give two breaths, each lasting around one second. Look for the chest to rise and fall. Children 1 and older: Pinch child’s nose and seal your lips over their mouth. Give two slow, full breaths. Wait for the chest to rise and fall before giving the second breath.
3. If the chest rises:
Check for a pulse (see number 4). If the chest doesn’t rise, try again. Retilt the head, lift the child’s chin, and repeat the breaths.
4. Check for a pulse
Put two fingers on the child’s neck to the side of the Adam’s apple. For infants, feel in inside the inner arm between the elbow and shoulder. Wait five seconds. If there is a pulse, give one breath every three seconds. Check for a pulse every minute, and continue rescue breathing until the child is breathing their own or help arrives.
5. If you can’t find a pulse
Infants under age 1: Imagine a line between the child’s nipples, and place two fingers just below its center point. Apply five half-inch chest compressions in about three seconds. After five compressions, seal your lips over the child’s mouth and nose and give one breath.
Children 1 and older: Use the heel of your hand (both hands for a teenager or adult) to apply five quick one-inch chest compressions to the middle of the breastbone (just above where the ribs come together) in about three seconds. After five compressions, pinch the child’s nose, seal your lips over their mouth, and give one full breath. All ages: Continue the cycle of five chest compressions followed by a breath for one minute, then check for a pulse. Repeat cycle until you find a pulse or help arrives and takes over.