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Mother, lifeguards help 3-year-old in near-drowning incident

SHARE Mother, lifeguards help 3-year-old in near-drowning incident

AMERICAN FORK — A 3-year-old boy who faced a drowning scare Wednesday at the city pool is home from the hospital, and he has the quick action of his mother and two lifeguards to thank for saving his life.

The incident happened at the American Fork Fitness Center, 454 N. Center, at about 7 p.m.

"It was free swim day, so it was crowded," lifeguard Kaylin Larson said.

But amid all the noise at the pool, Larson could hear a mother scream her child's name and knew something was wrong.

"Her son was face down in the water, and I just ran over there," Larson said.

As a brand new lifeguard, and soon to be a senior in high school, she said her CPR training kicked in.

"In my mind, I knew this wasn't practice, this was real," she said.

The mother, who was close by, had pulled her son out of the water by the time Larson arrived.

"The mother was doing chest compressions and I asked if I could help," Larson said. "And she was yelling for help, and I got my mask out and gave him two ventilations, and I checked for a pulse and breathing and I couldn't feel either, so I gave him two more ventilations."

Lifeguard Oakley Haslam soon joined the rescue effort and began assisting with CPR.

"He started to wake up, and he was coughing and throwing up," Haslam said, "but he was conscious before EMS arrived, and they got here pretty quick."

The boy was breathing and alert when he was rushed to the hospital. Larson and Haslam said the experience was a sobering reminder for them that a young child can get into trouble in the water very quickly.

"I would recommend some kind of floaty for anyone under the age of 5, even if they are good swimmers," Haslam said. "You never know what could happen."

"We are all so happy at AF Rec that the little boy is OK," Larson said, "and we send our best wishes and our prayers to that family."

The boy was taken to Primary Children's Hospital for some lung treatments. Doctors kept him overnight as a precaution. He went home Thursday morning.

In light of recent drowning and near drowning cases, Unified Police Department released the following tips to keep children safe.

Toddlers (age 1-4): Some of these may seem obvious and basic, but a little reminder never hurts.

Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks if you have a very curious toddler. Also keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed. Most children vulnerable to drowning in a toilet are too short to open doors.

NEVER leave your child unattended around water. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.

Private Swimming Pools: In-ground pools should have a four foot fence with a locking or self-latching gate around them. Above ground pools should have a removable ladder or removable steps so that the child cant climb into it on their own.

Learn CPR. Knowing what to do in the case of an emergency is very important and can save lives.

Teach kids never to go near or in water without an adult present. Having floatation devices can give you a false sense of security. Nothing is fail proof and those water wings can slip off.

Be alert at public pools. Even though there is a lifeguard present, dont assume that he/she is watching your child.

Empty all tubs, containers, buckets, play pools, wading pools and water-slides immediately after use. Also, story them upside down and out of reach of children so that they cannot re-fill with water.

Enroll your child in swimming lessons if at all possible. Teach them how to tread water and float.

Big Kids (age 5-16):

Install door and/or window alarms to alert you to the opening of a door or window leading to the pool area. (Can also come in handy if you have a child who likes to sneak out ;) )

Always have children swim with a partner, no matter where you are. That way there will always be someone to call for help or immediately notice if something is wrong.

Make sure your home pool or spa has a proper drain cover or shut-off function to prevent long hair, loose clothing or body parts from getting trapped.

Email: spenrod@deseretnews.com