Lifesaving actions by student, coach, parent prevent 16-year-old from drowning in Edgewood Middle School pool

It is believed the 16-year-old girl suffered a shallow water blackout

Quick actions by a fellow swimmer, a coach and a parent are credited with saving the life of a 16-year-old Edgewood High School student following a near drowning in a school swimming pool Friday.

The Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, which responded to the emergency call at the Edgewood Middle School pool, first reported on the incident Tuesday, an account that was later confirmed by a Harford County Public Schools spokesperson.

According to a fire company news release, a 911 call came in to the Harford County Emergency Operations Center at 6:11 p.m. reporting a non-breathing, 16-year old female swimmer at Edgewood Middle School in the 2400 block of Willoughby Beach Road.

Call information indicated that this was a result of a drowning and the fire company was alerted a minute later, according to the release. A fire engine from the Hanson Road Station, Fort Hanson in Edgewood, and a paramedic unit from the Old Mountain Road South station in Joppa responded.

"The fire engine, staffed by firefighters who are also trained as EMTs, arrived at 6:16 p.m.," the release continued. "The engine crew found a 16-year old swim team member who was out of the water and awake and talking. The crew was informed that she was competing in a swim-a-thon during a swim practice and did not surface."

"A teammate assisted the patient to the surface where another swimmer's parent removed her from the water," the release continued. "Bystander CPR was initiated by the rescuing parent and a swim team coach. Shortly thereafter, the patient was breathing."

As a precaution, the girl was taken by JMVFC paramedic unit to the John's Hopkins Children Center in Baltimore, which the fire company release notes is the protocol following a near-drowning incident. She was released from the hospital the next day.

According to the fire company, it is believed that the swimmer suffered a shallow water blackout, which is a form of near-drowning.

The fire company did not identify the swimmer, citing a request from privacy from her family, nor did it identify the coach, parent or the teammate who were involved in the lifesaving actions.

"We are very proud of how the students and staff reacted to the situation, as well as the parent who was able to support the efforts of the coach," Harford County Public Schools Manager of Communications Jillian Lader said in an emailed statement Tuesday evening.

According to the fire company news release, the swim team coach is CPR certified. The parent is not CPR certified, but worked with the Coach to resuscitate the patient.

"It is believed that the actions of the bystanders to initiate CPR prior to the arrival of the JMVFC undoubtedly helped save the swimmer's life," the release states.

The girl's family also issued a statement through the fire company:

"We are incredibly grateful to the coaches, parents, swimmers and paramedics who all assisted our daughter. While everyone hopes that they never need to either receive or administer CPR, it was only because there were people trained in what to do and how to do it, that we have our daughter at home with us today."

"There are procedures and policies in place to deal with a life-threatening incident at any school event," the statement continued. "Everyone hopes that they never need to be used. In this instance, the training, policy and procedures worked exactly as they were supposed to and saved the life of our daughter."

"Furthermore, if our daughter who is an accomplished swimmer, had a near drowning accident, we can only imagine how much more at risk of drowning the children of Edgewood and Joppa would be if the pools were to be closed and they lost their access to swim lessons," they statement continued. "We would not wish the fear we felt with that phone call on any parent.

"Again, we are extremely grateful to the coaches and parents who retrieved her from the water and performed CPR on her when she was non-responsive. Had they not had that training instead of fixing our daughter breakfast the next morning, we may have been meeting with a funeral director. In addition, the paramedics who responded were professional and kind to both our daughter and our family during one of the most stressful incidents of our life."

According to the fire company, the American Heart Association says, "when a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby. Almost 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person's chance of survival."

Although the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company does not offer citizen CPR classes, our neighbor, the Abingdon Fire Company does.

For information on their CPR classes, visit www.abingdonfc.com/content/cpr/.

More information on shallow water blackouts can be found at www.shallowwaterblackoutprevention.org.

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