°
High: °
Low: °
Wind:
Chance of precipitation:

Forecast

close
Friday, December 15 Local

Drowning case prompts Stamford pool operator to refresh lifeguards’ skills

STAMFORD — When it comes to drowning, a few seconds can mean the difference between a full recovery and lasting injury.

Fortunately for children, the demographic most impacted by drowning accidents, they’re more likely to bounce back than adults after the brain spends precious minutes cut off from oxygen.

“In any kind of injury, smaller children are more resilient,” said Dr. Heather Machen, director of pediatric emergency medicine at Stamford Hospital, where a 5-year-old New Canaan boy was treated after a near-drowning at Chelsea Piers earlier this month.

In light of the recent near drowning at the Stamford, Conn. Chelsea Piers Complex, lifeguards and camp counselors from the Yerwood Center review basic life saving skills and swim safety.

Media: matthew.brown@scni.com / ctpost.com

After spending about four minutes under water on Aug. 3, Adam Khattak was given CPR and rushed to Stamford

Hospital. From there he was airlifted in 14 minutes to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he was treated and released Monday, undergoing what doctors have called a miraculous recovery.

Adam is home and doing well, walking and talking, said Machen, who was not at the Stamford ER when Khattak arrived, but has since spoken with his father, Ahmed Khattak.

“He’s done remarkably well,” she said. “Nobody has a crystal ball, but all indications are he’s going back to school in September.”

The young boy, who arrived “very sick,” according to Machen, was intubated and stabilized at Stamford Hospital, then moved to Yale-New Haven, where he continued his treatment and rapid recovery.

“To go from that sick to home just four or five days later is incredible,” she said. “I told his dad this is exactly the kind of situation we go into this field for.”

As the boy recuperates, his near-death has sent shockwaves through the community, prompting camp counselors and lifeguards to brush up on their safety skills.

Connie Wu, director of the Yerwood Center pool, organized a two-hour class last week for her lifeguards and Boys & Girls Club camp counselors, covering pool safety, CPR and recognizing and responding to emergencies with the special needs population.

“If we’re going to talk about kids drowning, (we) might as well talk about the most at-risk population specific to this organization,” said Chris Clark, the swim coach and paramedic who led the session, referring to the Boys & Girls Club.

Many of the children who attend the Boys & Girls Club don’t know how to swim, so counselors need to know how to safely interact with them around a pool, even if there are lifeguards around, Wu said.

Parents have become more aware of pool safety since the Chelsea Piers incident, she said.

“They all know the situation, but what they don’t understand is that this could happen at any pool,” Wu said.

The 23-year-old Chelsea Piers lifeguard who pulled Adam from the water and gave him CPR has refused to speak with police until hiring an attorney. Surveillance video of the pool shows the boy underwater for about four minutes, after which point pool staff and medics administered three rounds of CPR to get him breathing.

Read Full Article 

The incident occurred at Chelsea Piers’ Splash Zone, which has three pools. Adam was attending a soccer camp that had been at the Splash Zone with 20 to 30 other children during a midday break.

Machen said several factors will determine whether someone recovers from a drowning — how long they’re underwater, when CRP is started at the scene, how long it continues and their condition when they arrive at the ER.

“That couple of minutes loss is huge,” Machen said. “Those brain effects are devastating the longer somebody is without oxygen.”

Those devastating effects are more likely in a warm-water pool than in colder water, where lower temperatures can protect the brain and slow the effects of oxygen deprivation.

The best way to prevent a young child from drowning is supervision, Machen said. At the pool, in the bathtub — even around the toilet, if they’re infants.

Every drowning is different, and time is often the only way to tell what a recovery will look like, she said.

“I’ve seen kids that you’d never know anything happened to them,” Machen said. “I’ve seen some kids with moderate injuries, and I’ve seen some kids with prolonged life-changing injuries.”

eskalka@stamfordadvocate.com

loading