East Lake Fire Rescue Lt. saves toddler from near-drowning

Pinellas County

EAST LAKE, Fla. (WFLA) – A Pinellas County 2-year-old is recovering after nearly drowning in an East Lake swimming pool in January.  

Lt. Jared Carlson with East Lake Fire Rescue was recognized this week as the first responder who saved the child’s life. 

“We heard that Squad 57, one of our neighboring stations, was going out on a call, so I decided to check to see what they were going on and it said multiple calls received,” Carlson said. “It was a pediatric drowning. We immediately put ourselves on the call.”

According to the department, that call led them to an East Lake home where a family was preparing for a pool party. Carlson says the family took down the pool’s safety fence to turn on the pool heater.

That’s when the unthinkable happened. 

“They took their eyes off the child for just a few minutes and dad had come out and saw the child in the pool.” 

The child’s father immediately jumped in the pool while the child’s mother called 911. When first responders arrived, the child was unresponsive. 

Carlson, who has been with the department since 2006, tells 8 On Your Side he recalls the moment he was handed the lifeless body of the toddler. 

“I saw the 2-year-old with dad and that’s basically when he came out and brought me the child’s lifeless body. He handed me the child and we started doing rescue breaths and supplemental oxygen and suctioned her airway,” said Carlson. “I took the child and worked as fast as I could. I tried to hang the child at an angle to where the water could get out of the lungs. We had to act really aggressive to get her to breathe.” 

According to East Lake Fire Rescue, the child, who had been underwater for two to three minutes, regained consciousness and was taken to the hospital and has since been released. 

“By the time they got to the hospital, they were crying aggressively, that’s what you want to hear. To have that outcome and walk away the next day with no deficits is a miracle.” 

 Now East Lake Fire Rescue is taking this opportunity to remind the public about pool safety. 

Here’s what East Lake Fire Rescue recommends:  

  • Enroll your children in swimming classes 
  • Install childproof door locks and door alarms on all doors leading to the pool area 
  • Install safety fencing around the pool 
  • Provide constant supervision when children are in or around the pool  
  • Keep toys and floating objects out of the pool 
  • Remove trip hazards from the pool’s edge  
  • Learn CPR.  

For more water safety tips, visit: https://www.safekids.org/poolsafety 

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