Life-saving effort by Veyo Pool manager draws salute from firefighters

The Dammeron Valley Fire & Rescue Department presented T.J. Packer with a life saver award at the Veyo Pool in Veyo, Utah, July 17, 2020 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Dammeron Valley Fire & Rescue Department presented T.J. Packer with a lifesaver award after Packer saved a five-year-old boy from drowning at the Veyo Pool. Packer was honored on July 17.

Swimmers enjoy a break from the heat in Crawdad Canyon at the Veyo Pool, Veyo, Utah, July 9, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Packer, the general manager at the Veyo Pool, was beginning his nightly routine when he heard screams coming from the pool.

That is when Packer’s lifeguard training kicked in.

“It was instinctual,” Packer said. “It was after the pool was closing down and the mom was helping the younger kids out. She had her back turned for just a few moments. He was playing, she turned and then he went under. I was going to drain the pool like we do every night and that’s when I heard her yell. From the tone and the frantic nature of her yell, you automatically knew something was wrong. I ran straight to the pool, jumped in and got him out.”

The child had been underwater for about a minute and a half according to Packer. Once he was taken out of the pool, Packer put the child’s neck in the right position, checked for a pulse and then checked for any signs of breathing. There were no signs of a pulse or breathing and he then began to give rescue breaths and chest compressions.

From there, the team of workers at the Veyo Pool executed their emergency plan to perfection. One worker called 911 while another made their way to locate the EMT’s and escort them to the pool. Packer said his team did everything right, just as they were trained to do.

The Dammeron Valley Fire & Rescue Department presented T.J. Packer with a life saver award at the Veyo Pool in Veyo, Utah, July 17, 2020 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

Dammeron Valley Fire & Rescue Department Interim Fire Chief Christina DuBois added that their response played a big role in the saving of the five-year-old boy. After the event and the response of Dammeron Fire, DuBois created the award based on an award she used to give out during her time with the Phoenix Fire Department.

“We created the award and I got ahold of T.J. It’s important for us to recognize heroes in our midst, ordinary people who do extraordinary things where they are called to step up to the plate and save a life or help solve a problem that turned bad,” DuBois said. “I think we don’t recognize the good in people enough in this world.”

When talking to St. George News about the incident, Packer said that the biggest takeaway from his experience was pool safety. As a lifeguard, he mentioned that it is easy to keep an eye on everybody in the middle of the day when the pool is busy. It is not as easy to do so when people are trying to clean up, dry off and make their way out of the pool.

Packer stressed that it is key for parents and others in the area to keep an eye on those in the pool. Incidents similar to the one he dealt with can happen extremely fast and Packer said he would rather err on the side of caution than have to deal with another incident.

DuBois also spoke about the importance of first aid and CPR training in everyday life. The certifications can be a incredibly important tool when placed in certain situations.

“It’s important for people to learn first aid and learn CPR so that if they are presented with that situation, they know what to do and they are comfortable doing it,” DuBois said. “That training kicks in and you are able to step in and save a life or at least make the situation a lot better until trained professionals can arrive.”

For Packer, while he thought it was thoughtful of the Dammeron Valley Fire Department to take the time to present him with the award, he was not expecting the recognition.

“With everything that Dammeron Fire has been dealing with, it was thoughtful of them to take time out from everything they’re working on, with all of the fires, to recognize me for that day,” Packer said. “It wasn’t something I needed or necessarily wanted but it’s nice to be appreciated.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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