Everything seemed normal when Sequoia Farms Community Pool opened its doors on Thursday, June 9 — locals basked in the sun and swam in the open lanes while lifeguards watched dutifully overhead. But all of that changed around 4:30 p.m., when Sean Song, 7, of Sequoia Farms, began struggling in the swimming lane closest to the pool house.
LARA CHAPMAN, 19, of Belle Pond Farms, was coaching the Stingrays Swim Team when she noticed Sean grasping for air. A certified lifeguard, Lara began looking around to evaluate the best course of action.
Fortunately, Matt Murphy, 15, who is also a certified lifeguard, was swimming in the lane adjacent to Sean's. "[Sean] was floating at the bottom. I went down and gave him a small shake to see if he was playing. When I realized he was unconscious, I picked him up, screamed 'blow the whistle' [to Lara], and carried him to the edge of the pool," said Matt, a sophomore at Westfield High.
With the help of Chris Martin, also a 14-year-old sophomore at Westfield High, Matt placed Sean on the deck next to Lara who had been nervously waiting to check for vital signs. "It's one of those things you train for, but never expect to happen," said Lara, a sophomore majoring in education at Radford University.
After determining that Sean had no pulse, Lara began administering CPR. This was done without the aid of a biological shield, a plastic device emergency workers use to prevent the transmission of bodily fluids between victims and rescuers.
Rescue teams arrived in an ambulance and fire truck shortly after Lara expelled the majority of fluid from Sean's lungs, which caused him to begin breathing again. "He was held for observation, given a clean bill of health, and then released," said Jeff Symmes, chairperson of the pool committee.
"IT'S NOT every day that you find three wonderful young people [like Matt, Chris and Lara] who respond and work together in a way that results in saving a life," said Gary Chapman, Lara's father. "[They have all] proved to be very worthy role models."
Sean's mother and sister accompanied him in showing their appreciation last Saturday, June 11. "They came by and thanked me tremendously," said Lara. "It was a major help to see he was OK."
Sean's family expressed their gratitude by giving Lara a card saying: "Thank you so much for acting professionally and administering CPR to Sean in such a dangerous situation. We just wanted to say thank you and how much we appreciate what you did."