As an employee of the YMCA, first aid and basic lifesaving training are provided and required. We all understand the importance of this skill but hope we are never in a situation where we must use it. Unfortunately, for a few of the Kerasotes employees, they have had to use these life-saving skills.
This past October Amanda, Kerasotes Child Watch Director, was getting ready for work and realized her two-year old son, Julian, was not feeling well. She kept an eye on him as she monitored him for fever. Each time she took his temperature it was normal, so she made the decision to come in to work. After Amanda and her three kids arrived at the YMCA, the two older boys Jack (8) and Isaac (7) went to the youth lobby. Julian came with her and quickly fell asleep on her chest as she was wrapping up some computer work. Suddenly, Julian started to have a seizure in her arms. She instructed someone in child watch to call 911 and ran with him to the Kerasotes front desk. She was met by Dana Kuhn, Kerasotes Membership Director, who took him to the administrative offices behind the front desk and instructed someone to get Arthur Steiner, Kerasotes Aquatic Director.
When Arthur arrived, Julian’s lips and face were blue, and he was not breathing. Arthur determined he was choking and knew his airway needed to be cleared. He administered back blows and chest compressions while Sue Montgomery, Kerasotes staff member, offered additional assistance. One last, large back blow was administered and that was the blow that loosened up the phlegm that was blocking his airway. Amanda said, “I remember hearing this little pathetic whimper, but it was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.” The paramedics and fire department arrived, and Julian was transported to the hospital for further review. It was determined that Julian had a febrile seizure which is caused by a spike in body temperature, usually from an infection. A follow-up visit to his doctor confirmed the diagnosis. These seizures typically do not accompany long-lasting damage. Amanda reports he has not had any problems since the incident.
Arthur recalls being very concerned when he first arrived on site. He saw that Julian’s lips were blue and he was not breathing but had a pulse. He started with eight cycles of back blows and chest compressions. He is grateful Sue Montgomery was there to provide extra instruction and support. Arthur spends a great deal of his time training lifeguards in CPR and AED so he is quite familiar with what needs to happen in this type of situation. He says, “It is still scary and gets your adrenaline pumping, but you just do what you can. My biggest concern after getting him to breathe was would he remember me and be afraid of me?” That does not seem to be the issue with the two of them. They are pretty good friends.
Amanda is so incredibly grateful for the support she and her family received during this time. In addition, it has opened her eyes to “what if”. What if she were by herself? What if she had to figure out on her own what course to take? She knew that he was in the best capable hands with Sue and Arthur but understands the importance of this life saving skill.
In an email sent to staff by Amanda shortly after the episode, she writes, “As I am processing all of this, I have decided to sign myself and my entire family up for basic first aid and basic life support. I would like to get in as much preparation as I possibly can so that I can be the person that anyone would feel the level of comfort that I did with you in saving my son. I have had to step in with other people’s children in the past in emergencies, but there is something about it being your own or someone you are very close to that allows this panic to set in that is utterly indescribable. Of course, we all hope that nothing like this ever happens to anyone, but that is not reality. For me, this was a wake-up call that if I were to have been at home, there would have been NO time for panic. I want and need to be better prepared for my family, and for all of the kiddos/grown-ups who enjoy our facility.”