By John DeCoste
As part of their training, lifeguards are taught to deal with a wide range of potential emergencies. Seventeen-year-old Jamie Freeman put his practice to good use recently when he rescued a little boy from an scary incident at a private pool.
The Kingston teen and recent West Kings graduate is a lifeguard and swim instructor at Klahanie Kamping in Aylesford. His second job is with Wee Folk Centre, taking care of youngsters at a private residence in Victoria Harbour. It was at the second job, Freeman encountered a real-life emergency.
When a group of kids was getting in the home’s pool, a little boy got caught up in the rush, slipped and accidently fell in.
Freeman pulled out the preschooler immediately, but the boy was “already turning blue,” so the lifeguard resuscitated the four- or five-year-old, got him to vomit, after which he revived and “started to get his normal colour back.
“He seemed fine, but as a precaution, I suggested he be taken to hospital to be checked out.” The child was first taken to Valley Regional in Kentville and then to the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax.
In following up, Freeman learned the boy is fine, with no negative effects from the near drowning.
“He was kept overnight for observation, but released the next day,” Freeman said.
“They determined at the IWK that he had high sodium levels in his body and chlorinated water in his stomach. He’s a lucky little fellow.”
Freeman stressed the area where the mishap occurred “is perfectly safe,” and there were two adult volunteers besides him there at the time. However, he pointed out how quickly, and innocently, an emergency like this can occur.
Gisela Currie, director of the Wee Folk Centre in Greenwood, said the group was on an outing to her home when the accident took place.
Currie confirmed there were 14 children there at the time under the care of two staff, a volunteer and Freeman.
“We’re very, very happy Jamie was there,” Currie said, adding the teen has worked for them for two years. “He’s a good lifeguard.”
Freeman acknowledges he likely saved the boy’s life, but he doesn’t feel he did anything particularly heroic.
“I just did the job I’m trained to do,” he said. “You do what you have to do, and what has to be done.
“This the first time since I’ve been doing this that something like this has happened.”
His training taught him the hospital trip was necessary to avoid “secondary drowning.”
A person “can drown internally up to three days later,” Freeman said.
“We learn all that and a lot more through our training,” he said – training that proved to be a lifesaver