Originally created 06/29/01

Paramedics extend free pool checks



Swimming pools can often turn summer fun into tragedy. The medics at Rural/Metro Ambulance don't want that to happen in Richmond County this year.

They've already handled two near drownings of children, and emergency workers say those were scary enough.

This week, Rural/Metro began offering free safety checks of Augusta residents' pools. Pool owners can make an appointment, and a paramedic or emergency medical technician will come to their house and look for proper floatation and rescue devices, proper fencing around the pool, and furniture and electrical devices placed too close to the water, said Valerie Spratlin, spokeswoman for Rural/Metro.

Medics also stress the need for every family member older than 14 to be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and the importance of close supervision of small children.

"A child can drown quicker than you can walk inside and answer the phone," Ms. Spratlin said.

A week ago, a 9-year-old boy narrowly escaped drowning in the Village Green Apartments swimming pool. He took a snorkel in the water, and suddenly his father saw him at the bottom of the deep end.

"He was swimming, and then he wasn't," said the boy's mother, Michelle McCabe. "If my husband hadn't been a conscientious parent, my son would be dead."

The father pulled him from the water, then laid him on his side and emptied the water from his lungs. An assistant manager at the complex performed CPR on the boy while a manager summoned an ambulance, Mrs. McCabe said.

A 12-year-old boy nearly drowned in a home pool earlier this summer, Ms. Spratlin said. Last year, three people in the area - two of them children - died in swimming pools.

Drowning is the second-most common cause of injury-related deaths of children 14 and younger, according to the American Red Cross.

Rural/Metro's pool checks will be available until the last home pool is shut down for the year, Ms. Spratlin said. To schedule a visit, call Rural/Metro at 821-4547.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

Pool safety tips

A nonclimbable fence should be installed between the pool and the residence with self-closing/self-latching gates.

First aid, rescue and resuscitation equipment should be availble pool-side.

Do not use flotation devices, such as water wings, as a substitute for supervision.

Do not allow young children in the pool without an adult.

Never keep toys around or in a pool - these attract children to danger.

If a child is missing, look in the pool first.