Child Drowns in Bahamas, But Where Was the Lifeguard?

Cynthia Dermody
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resort swimming pool

In every parents' nightmare come true, a 5 year old Canadian girl died Thursday after she was pulled unconscious from a swimming pool at a Bahamas resort and lifeguards and rescuers failed to revive her. Those ads for family resorts hoping to lure tired parents with their plethora of babysitting and supervised activities for kids are looking a little less attractive right now, aren't they?

This is not to say that anyone is negligent here. No charges have been filed, and it may all end up being ruled a tragic accident that no one could have prevented ... but not from the looks of things so far.

I see a mom who will never shake the guilt and regret, who will never fully recover from the sadness and loss. I see a police investigation and a lawsuit. I see witnesses on the stand saying that this little girl didn't have to die if resort staff hadn't pushed the trained doctors and nurses who were trying to save her away.

The girl, Brooklyn Rattai, from Edmonton, was playing near a chair by the swimming pool at the Atlantis Resort & Casino on Paradise Island Thursday. We've all been there. This could have been us and our kids. One minute she was there -- mom looks away for something -- and the next, she was gone. Minutes later, guests watched in horror as rescuers pulled an unconscious child from the pool.

A critical care nurse who was at the resort as a guest heard the screams and ran to the girl, whose training told her to check for a heart beat -- she had one -- and begin CPR. A doctor who was also a guest ran over to help. But resort staff quickly pushed the medical experts away, and even created a barricade so they could not get to the girl. They were unsure of the nurse and doctor's credentials, and said they didn't have the authority to dispense medical care at the resort.

The nurse, Toni Randall, said she watched as lifeguards screwed up CPR attempts, administering chest compressions even though it was not necessary since the girl had a pulse, and failing to turn the girl over after she vomited to prevent suffocation. After what what witnesses describe as a "long" rescue effort, an ambulance arrived and took the girl to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

With April vacation and swimming season upon us, one can't help but use this story as a reminder of what can happen when children -- even older children -- are left unattended for even a few minutes near a pool. That's one lesson, and there are a few others. Lifeguards, especially young lifeguards, may be trained in CPR but in the head of a scary situation, they may not always use it correctly. Take a course yourself. Give your kids swimming lessons. And watch your kids like a hawk by the pool.

Do your children know how to swim? Are you comfortable with them playing near a pool?

 

Image via themeparkmom/Flickr

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