Would you know how to perform CPR if faced with a life-threatening situation? With a lapsed certification, Florida mom Dawn Marengo says she wasn’t prepared when her 19-month-old son Damien nearly drowned in the family pool just three weeks ago.
Dawn has three kids and, like many of us, is used to multitasking in a noisy household. It was a typical Monday — Dawn was folding laundry and her two youngest were playfully bickering in the other room. Then, she noticed … it was quiet. Dawn went to check on the kids and saw the back door wide open. She ran outside to find her little boy floating in the pool.
“His lips were blue; a color blue I can’t even describe. And he wasn’t breathing,” Dawn tells Babble. Her eldest child dialed 9-1-1. In a panic, she struggled to recall CPR steps and instinctively flipped him over to give back thrusts — a technique normally used for choking — in an attempt to clear his airway of water. “I couldn’t remember what to do. I just knew that he needed to breathe,” Dawn says, so she laid her limp son down, tilted his head, pinched his nose, and breathed into his mouth. Thankfully, Damien began to cough, vomit, and whimper — just as paramedics arrived for airlift transport to an Orlando hospital. Physicians found fluid in Damien’s lungs but predicted a full recovery. Dawn knows how lucky she is, as over 3,500 fatal drownings occur annually in the U.S. AND more children 1-4 years old die from drowning than any other cause of death, except birth defects, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dawn took to Facebook to encourage others in the private “Ta Ta Tuesday Ladies” mommy group to learn CPR, and her post has received over 400 likes and 60 comments offering words of support.
“Ladies … PLEASE take a CPR course!!! More than once! My son drowned on Monday afternoon. I barely remember anything from CPR class and I have taken several CPR classes,” she writes. “By the grace of God I was able to save my son’s life. He is doing fine, but it was so terrifying!!! It CAN happen to you! So PLEASE take some CPR courses!! You never know if or when you’ll need it but it WILL save a life.”
Dawn has taken a few CPR courses over the years but never expected to have to use her learnings. With a newfound awareness, Dawn advises, “Every mother needs to take CPR more than just once because it can happen to you. The more you practice CPR, the more equip you are going to be to handle the situation if it comes your way.”
It had been four years since her last class, and the American Heart Association’s (AHA) certification is valid for two years. Dawn admits that she was afraid to try chest compressions because she couldn’t recall how to administer them, especially since both infant and child CPR are modified from adult CPR. After working at the AHA for newly a decade, even I had to confirm the breath-to-compression ratio for this article, so I can’t even fathom remembering in a traumatic situation. But Dawn did remember the mouth-to-mouth component and that saved her son’s life!
She’s set to take a new class and has already enhanced her home’s safety measures. And each exit door now has a padlock, as does the pool’s safety gate. It wasn’t properly latched on the day of the near fatal drowning — an unfortunate but honest mistake.
While all parents do have a lengthy to-do list, learning CPR should be a priority, especially as summer approaches with increased pool and beach time. You can even practice at home with a CPR Anytime Kit — a DIY tool that I made Grammy and Gramps try before babysitting my son.