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RFPRA: Lifeguards performed CPR on child who almost drowned at Northside Swim Center

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At least one bystander at the Northside Swim Center gives full credit to a pair of lifeguards for saving the life of a boy who was drowning Monday afternoon.

“If those kids hadn’t been paying attention that kid would not be alive right now,” said Shawn Howse, a retired Roman who said he goes to the swim center at the corner of Kingston Avenue and Church Street three or four times a week.

First-year lifeguard Sarah Eichenberger said she heard a girl screaming toward the deep end of the pool at about 3 p.m. and saw the child in the water, unresponsive.

“I got up and grabbed a (flotation) tube because I knew I had to get him out of the water,” Eichenberger said.

Fourth-year lifeguard Austin Linatoc had just rotated shifts with another lifeguard and immediately ran to Eichenberger’s assistance.

Linatoc took over CPR while Eichenberger raced across the pool complex to get an Automated External Defibrillator to shock the child if necessary. She said that she couldn’t feel a pulse right after she got the boy onto the apron of the pool.

By the time Eichenberger got back to the child and hooked up the AED, the first ambulance had arrived and paramedics took over.

Public safety authorities did not know the exact condition of the boy Tuesday evening, and he was not listed on the public record at Floyd Medical Center, according to hospital spokesman Dan Bevels.

Rome-Floyd Fire Capt. Phil Lumpkin said the child was conscious and spitting up water inside the ambulance that took him to FMC.

The swim center is managed by the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority, which released a statement Monday evening expressing concern for the boy.

It said officials will be investigating the incident further.

“We are still gathering all the facts at this time,” Interim Director Wendy Reid said in the statement.

“As a mother I can’t imagine the fear the child and the family felt. Our thoughts and prayers are with the child, the family and everyone who was present.”

All RFPRA lifeguards are certified through the American Red Cross and undergo a standard interview process, according to the statement.

Linatoc said it was the first time he had ever been called on to assist in a rescue and that his training kicked in almost automatically.

Howse said he had seen the child “roughhousing” with others in the pool prior to the incident, “but they were just being kids, they were just playing.”

The pool was closed last Friday due to lack of water clarity after RFPRA officials determined the water was too cloudy and could have been an issue for lifeguards to see below the surface.

Staff writer Jeremy Stewart contributed to this report.

The Rome-Floyd Parks & Recreation Authority released the following statement:

Following a near-drowning incident that occurred on Monday afternoon at the Northside Swim Center Pool, Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority officials express immense concern and will be investigating the incident further.

“We are still gathering all the facts at this time,” said Interim Director Wendy Reid.

“As a mother I can’t imagine the fear the child and the family felt. Our thoughts and prayers are with the child, the family and everyone who was present.”

Program Coordinator Shawn Schumacher – who oversees the Northside Swim Center – said at the time of the incident three lifeguards were on deck surveying the pool when they saw the unresponsive child on the surface. The child was immediately moved to land where lifeguards administered CPR. Lifeguards were still performing life-saving techniques by the time authorities arrived.

RFPRA’s top priority is the safety of its patrons. All RFPRA lifeguards are certified through the American Red Cross and undergo a standard interview process. RFPRA seeks to hire experienced lifeguards for the Northside Swim Center.

Previously posted:

A young Hispanic boy was rescued from the deep end of the Northside Swim Center by lifeguards around 3 p.m.

Sarah Eichenberg, a first-year lifeguard, pulled the child from the water and Austin Linatoc began CPR while Eichenberg ran to get an AED. Before she could start the AED ambulance personnel were on the scene.

"I heard a girl screaming and got up and grabbed a tube because I knew I had to get him out of the water," Eichenberg said.

The child was responsive, according to Capt. Phil Lumpkin of the Rome-Floyd Fire Department, and throwing up water in the ambulance.