Quick-acting lifeguards at Crystal Lake pool avert crisis for toddler
URBANA — Quick action by lifeguards at the Crystal Lake Park Family Aquatic Center on Saturday afternoon averted what could have been a tragedy.
Shortly after 4 p.m., a lifeguard noticed that a toddler who had been doing back floats in the leisure pool did not appear normal.
“She was playing in the water and doing a bunch of back floats pretty much all day,” said Corky Emberson, superintendent of recreation for the Urbana Park District.
“The guards were keeping an eye on that and then saw it didn’t look like she was doing her back float anymore.”
A lifeguard went in the water and found the girl, who is almost 3, not breathing.
“They started CPR and she threw up water,” Emberson said. “We like to see that.”
Emberson said there were four lifeguards — high school and college-age men and women — who surrounded the child prepared to help but she began vomiting almost immediately.
“She was conscious before the emergency medical services (responders) got there,” Emberson said.
Urbana Fire Division Chief Chad Hensch said the lifeguards did a “really good job” and the firefighters who went out on the call didn’t have to do anything since the child was being placed in an ambulance as they pulled up.
“It’s a pretty traumatic thing to go through,” Hensch said of the response by the young lifeguards. “It’s one thing to go through training and practice on a mannequin. It’s another thing to do it for real.”
Emberson wasn’t sure which of the staff members actually spotted the girl and who started CPR. He said there are 18 lifeguards working per shift. They rotate positions frequently. But he said he was extremely proud of all of them.
“This is why we train — to make sure participants are safe,” he said. “It is water and any time you’re around water, things can happen. You have to be trained and ready to react.”
The area where she was found was about 3 ½ feet deep, he said.
Urbana police Sgt. Andy Charles said both the girl’s parents were also at the pool. She was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital.
Emberson said the girl’s mother “had the EMTs come back and let the guards know she is doing good and was very thankful for what they had done.”
He said the child was being watched for a while at the hospital since she lost consciousness briefly.
The new Crystal Lake pool opened last July 4 after months of delay due to a wet spring.
The pool at 1401 N. Broadway Ave., U, opened for the 2014 season on Memorial Day weekend and just went to full-time summer hours on Thursday.
“It’s been very popular,” said Emberson.