How parents' attempt to save water led to tragedy in just six minutes

A NSW family who were doing their bit to save water during the state’s long-lasting drought were confronted with every parent’s worst nightmare when their 16-month-old boy nearly drowned.

Baby Jasper, who had recently learned to crawl, was found face-first in a tub the Newcastle family were using to conserve household water by collecting it in the shower.

The toddler’s mum, who did not wish to be identified, said it took just six minutes for Jasper to almost lose his life.

While his mum spoke on the phone, the toddler had been sharing a mango with his older sister, she said.

Moments later the older sibling found him in the tub and quickly pulled the infant’s blue, lifeless body out of the water.

“Drowning is silent,” the family wrote in a statement shared by Tiny Hearts Education on Facebook to warn other parents.

“And very, very quick.”

Rach Waia, one of the co-founders of Tiny Hearts Education, a training service which teaches parents life-saving first-aid skills, said drowning is the third-most common cause of death for children aged between one and 14.

“In particular the risk is to children aged one to two,” Ms Waia told Yahoo News Australia.

“When we tend to think about water, we think the pool or the beach, but we need to start thinking of things within the home, and this is where we see the most amount of incidents.”

Sixteen-month-old Jasper learnt to crawl just over Christmas, almost a month later he was found face first in a tub a water. Source: Facebook/Tiny Hearts Education
Sixteen-month-old Jasper nearly drowned almost a month after he learnt to crawl. Source: Facebook/Tiny Hearts Education

Ms Waia says it’s a child’s natural curiosity which leads them to water.

Jasper’s mother said he was like a rag doll when she picked him up, with his head between his knees on the floor.

“His open eyes will be forever burned into my memory.”

Jasper’s mother followed her instincts and ran to get help from her neighbour, while holding her baby boy.

“I will be forever and ever indebted to her for having the hands of a hero, the head of a trained nurse, the heart of a loving mother,” the Facebook post said.

Carolyn, the neighbour, gave Jasper CPR for 13 minutes until paramedics arrived and he was taken to hospital.

A child can drown in 3cm of water

Jasper’s family sat around waiting for eight hours, wondering what his fate would be. At 3am, Jasper cried out, hungry and angry.

“My baby almost drowned yesterday. Our J-magic has tested us again. We have been reminded how very special he is, how very fragile life is, how very careful we must be,” the post on January 30 says.

“A child can drown in 3cm of water. In 30 seconds. Silently.”

He has since made a full recovery.

Jasper's parents credit their neighbour who gave him CPR for 13 minutes before paramedics arrived. Source: Facebook/Tiny Hearts Education
Jasper's parents credit their neighbour who gave him CPR for 13 minutes before paramedics arrived. Source: Facebook/Tiny Hearts Education

Seven steps to save a life

Ms Waia says it is integral all parents know basic resuscitation techniques, as sometimes it could be the difference between life and death.

“It’s seven simple steps to take,” she says.

“If you take them you’re giving that person the best opportunity at life.”

Ms Waia, who is a mother herself, understands why parents may not do a first-aid course, which would teach them the necessary skills to provide life-saving CPR in a time of need, as it is something hopefully no parent will have to use.

She says if a child has suffered a drowning incident, the child needs to be removed from the water as quickly as possible. It then needs to be established if they are conscious or unconscious.

“We need to alert emergency services by calling triple-0, check their airways to see if there is water or fluid in the airway and clear it if need be,” Ms Waia says.

“Check if the patient is breathing normally or abnormally and then commence CPR if the child is unconscious or not breathing.”

Jasper's family was reminded of who "fragile" life is, and now his mother is raising money to help pay for parents to go to a first aid course. Source: Facebook/Tiny Hearts Education
Jasper's family was reminded of who "fragile" life is. Source: Facebook/Tiny Hearts Education

Ms Waia explains CPR consists of two simple components – compressions on the chest, followed by ventilations or breaths.

“It’s always at the rate of 30 compressions to two breaths,” she said.

For children aged one to eight, compressions are done with one hand at the centre of the chest, in between the nipple line, pushing one third of the depth of the chest.

For infants, use two fingers for the compressions, still in the centre of the chest pressing one-third down, which is roughly four centimetres on a child.

It is important to keep doing the 30 compressions to two breaths until paramedics arrive.

‘Muscle memory’ will kick in during crisis

Ms Waia said she understands it’s easy for her as an educator and someone who works with the ambulance services in Victoria to advise parents to stay calm, but there’s no way of telling how a someone will react in that situation.

“The only way you’re going to be able to do something is if you prepare for things like this, if you have some knowledge, invest in the time to do a course, to learn CPR, child resuscitation or first-aid,” she said.

“Because at a time that you need it, you draw back on it and have that muscle memory.”

Ms Waia founded Tiny Hearts Education with her sister Nikki, who worked as a paramedic and noticed parents lacked the basic paediatric first-aid knowledge which sometimes had devastating consequences.

The aim of Tiny Hearts is to educate Aussie parents and give them the knowledge and confidence.

Mum’s campaign to get everyone to learn CPR

Jasper’s mother has since launched a GoFundMe to help provide first-aid training to 100 people in the NSW Hunter and Newcastle region.

“If it was not for the application of CPR by my neighbour for 13 minutes we would have lost him,” Jasper’s mum wrote on the GoFundMe.

“Baby Jasper is back at home, happy, healthy and cheeky, having given his family, friends and the community around him the most terrifying wake up call: be careful with ANY body of water and CPR training can and does save lives.

“Parents, grandparents, neighbours: our experience with Jasper has opened our eyes to the importance of CPR training.”

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