As we head into another summer weekend, it's imperative to put the focus on water safety.
Just last weekend, six people drowned in Southeast Wisconsin. Those drownings happened in Dane, Kenosha, Walworth, and Waukesha Counties. The victims ranged in age from eight to 81 years old.
Right now, we know two children have been hospitalized after struggling in the water in the past 48 hours in separate incidents. One happened in Milwaukee County and the other was in Waukesha County.
In both cases, first responders say it was the quick thinking of witnesses, who immediately started performing CPR, that saved both the toddler and teenager.
TMJ4 does not have an update on the condition of the 14-year-old. The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department provided a brief update Friday, confirming the teen is alive and still receiving treatment at the hospital.
North Shore Fire and Rescue, which responded to the incident with the two-year-old, says the little boy will recover and be released from the hospital soon.
“A couple of bystanders called 911 and began CPR, then police arrived soon after and took over, then we continued and rushed the toddler to the hospital," said North Shore Fire Battalion Chief Dan Tyk. “I honestly think those bystanders rushing to action is what made this have a positive outcome. If we're the first people to show up to do CPR in those situations, generally, it's not a positive outcome for the patient.”
Laura Metro and her family work tirelessly to prevent drownings after her son, Clay, nearly died in a pool when he was three years old.
“We believe he tripped on his towel and fell in the deep end because he and the towel were both at the bottom of the pool,” she said. “There were adults around the pool when it happened. It only takes seconds. We pulled him out, and he was gray and lifeless. We were flown to a hospital where Clay was in a coma for two days.”
Metro does not take for granted the fact that her son survived and did not suffer any lasting brain damage. She now helps lead the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, or NDPA.
Such incidents often go unreported. For every one person that dies from drowning, there are five to eight "non-fatal drownings," and most of those result in the need for lifelong care.
“So, the ripple effect of this is catastrophic,” said Laura. “It's beyond hard on families financially, medically, psychologically. The last thing we want to hear is ‘we didn’t know.’ A lot of families touched by a drowning or near-drowning tell us they didn’t know it could happen like that.”
Seventy percent of childhood drownings happen when a child is not supposed to be in or near the water. When someone is struggling in the water, they are often totally silent.
“Our bodies are there to protect us, so they are going to do whatever they can to allow us to conserve energy, so we don't use the oxygen, so you essentially kind of going into a paralysis state to a certain degree, and then that results in the silent sinking,” said Laura.
First responders and drowning prevention advocates continue to stress the importance of life jackets, swim lessons, vigilant supervision, and locked barriers around pools.