Recent near-drownings of toddlers happened quickly, silently

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ST. GEORGE — Recent near-drownings involving small children have first responders and safety experts cautioning parents that a child can drown quickly and quietly.

Hyatt Place, where a 3-year-old nearly drowned, St George, Utah, June 5, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Emergency personnel responded Tuesday to a possible drowning at the Hyatt Place near the Dixie Convention Center in St George involving a 3-year-old who was found in the hotel’s pool.

The child was pulled from the pool unconscious and not breathing, St. George Fire Battalion Chief Robert Hooper said.

While en route to the call responders were notified the child was crying and breathing, which is “exactly what we found when we arrived on scene.” The toddler was loaded into the ambulance and rushed to the hospital.

Responders learned from witnesses that two bystanders who saw the incident stepped in to help, one of whom is certified in CPR, which was initiated as soon as the child was pulled from the pool, Hooper said.

“That bystander started chest compressions and rescue breathing and continued those efforts until the child started to show signs of life a few minutes later. First she started breathing and then crying.”

Hooper also said that without the bystander’s efforts, the child’s prognosis would have been “very, very grim.”

Photo courtesy of Pixabay, St. George News

Tuesday’s incident is more common that most people think.

There were several other people near the pool when the toddler slipped under the water, Hooper said, but no one noticed at first, “because it happened silently without warning.”

“People tend to think that when children drown there is lots of arms flailing and noise before they go under, but in fact the exact opposite is true.”

David Heaton, Southwest Utah Public Health Department public information officer told St. George News in a previous story that drowning is silent and once a child slips underwater they “don’t make a sound,” so there is no audible alert that the child is in danger.

An incident reported April 5 involved a 3-year-old boy who nearly drowned while playing in the pool at the Bloomington Country Club.

The toddler was found submerged in the water by Logan Bleazard, who quickly pulled the child out and yelled to his mom, Whitney Bleazard, for help.

She ran to the side of the pool and found the toddler not breathing, with no detectable heartbeat and his face was blue, according to a statement from the city of St. George.

Photo by Aliaksandr Bukatsich/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

She began CPR while her son called 911. The child’s heart began beating after about three chest compressions, and her next objective was to get the toddler to breathe.

Whitney Bleazard reportedly said she had to keep feeding oxygen to his lungs because it had been completely depleted.

The first to arrive on scene was Hooper, who had taught a CPR training class that Bleazard and several of her coworkers participated in, but this was the first time she had to initiate CPR in a nontraining scenario.

Hooper said that when responders arrived at the scene “everything that should have been done was done by the Bleazards,” and because of that “this victim survived,” adding the child could have been under water for as long as two minutes.

The child was able to make a full recovery.

Prevention is key to prevent this type of danger, and knowing how quickly and quietly a drowning can occur can reduce the risk of suffering a catastrophic loss later. Hooper also stressed that being trained in CPR can literally mean the difference between life and death.

“You can nearly triple a victim’s chance of survival by simply starting CPR on them.”

Hooper also said with temperatures warming up there are also more outdoor and water activities, which also increases the risk of drowning, particularly for children.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay, St. George News

More than half of all drowning deaths among children 18 and under are reported between June and August, according to the Utah Department of Health.

The most common scenario involves an under-supervised child wandering off during a gathering with several adults present, but none designated as the official “child watcher,” and then falls into a pool, stream, pond or other body of water, according to the health department.

In Utah, drowning is the third leading cause of death among children 17 and under. More than 40 percent of childhood drowning deaths over the last 10 years occurred in open bodies of water, while 30 percent occurred in a pool.

The data also shows that nearly 20 percent of the deaths reported during that period took place in a bathtub, majority of which were infants less than a year old.

“Remember, kids can drown in a pretty small amount of water, sometimes as small as one inch of water,” Heaton said in a 2018 interview. “Kids should never be left in a tub alone, not ever.”

Identifying the signs of a drowning child is important:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus or closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Vertical in water – not using legs
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to roll over on the back or trying to swim but not making headway
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder

Weeks after the near-drowning incident, both Whitney Bleazard and her son Logan were honored for “their quick thinking and heroic deeds” at a recent St. George City Council meeting where the pair was presented with an “Award for Heroic Action.”

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Twitter: @STGnews 

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.


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