Lifeguards rescue infant
Seventeen-month-old Carson Madigan smiles as he sits atop a slide in his Family’s home. Carson was rescued by lifeguards after falling by a pool. Photo by: Julie Fiedler, POST.
Story by: Julie Fiedler
1ST INF. DIV. POST
Brady Schmidt snapped his fingers. It all happened in an instant, he recalled.
Schmidt, Austin Ellis and Docota Fox were lifeguarding at the McClellan Place community center pool in early August when they heard screaming.
A 17-month-old infant had fallen by the pool, hitting his head and had stopped breathing. Then, he became unresponsive. His mother cried for help.
The trio leapt into action, delivering CPR to the child, calling 911 and calming the patrons.
Their rescue training just kicked in, Fox said.
While they are trained to handle emergencies, it's something they hope never happens, Schmidt added.
What they did was not heroic. At least, that's what they will tell you. They were just doing their job, according to Schmidt.
But the baby's mother, military spouse Angelia Madigan, disagrees.
"Carson would not be here if it wasn't for the lifeguards," she said.
Madigan said she can't recall all of the details of that day.
"It was so hard to even believe that was happening," she said. "I was just terrified of what was going on."
But she remembers thinking her son might be in a coma or even dead, she said.
The lifeguards performed CPR on Carson until paramedics arrived on the scene. After being taken to Irwin Army Community Hospital, Madigan and Carson were flown to Topeka, Kan., for further care, while her husband followed in the car.
Madigan recalled thinking her son would be OK after about 20 minutes, when his eyelashes fluttered in the ambulance.
Schmidt said he remembers those moments stretching into hours, as he and the others waited to get word about Carson's condition.
Today, Carson's bright brown eyes seem to twinkle with curiosity and his shy smile seems to spread with warmth, as he plays with his Family.
As for swimming, the Family has taken him back to the pool, but not to the same one where the accident happened because of the memories associated with it.
"He did not seem scared," Madigan said. "But us, as parents, were very scared."
Madigan had not seen the lifeguards yet to thank them for what they did for her son, but she said she hoped to have the opportunity to do so.
She also said she wanted to apologize for yelling and being rude, a reaction the lifeguards simply shrugged off, given the nightmare scenario she faced.
The pool staff operates much like a team, like a Family, according to Mary Beth Smith, area supervisor, American Pool Enterprises Inc. They have each other's back, she said, and are very protective and respectful of one another.
Not only did they band together under pressure to rescue Carson, but they also banded together in their humility, reluctant even to discuss what happened or consider themselves heroes, she said.
"All of us at American Pool are extremely proud of our employees, whose quick thinking averted what could have been a tragic event at the pool," said James Darke, executive vice president, American Pool Enterprises Inc. "Brady, Austin and Docota will tell you they were just doing their job. That may be, but being a lifeguard is so much more than a job. It involves extensive training and constant readiness for events that you hope will never happen. When it did happen, they were ready, and they deserve all the credit for making such a wonderful difference in the life of one little boy and his Family."