A Georgia woman, whose son nearly drowned recently in a DeKalb County public swimming pool, says she has concerns that the lifeguards on duty weren’t adequately trained to handle the emergency.
Melissa Sloan and her fiancé, Patrick Welch, told WXIA News in a videotaped interview (shown below) that lifeguards at the Browns Mill Family Aquatic Center appeared helpless when Sloan’s 14-year-old son, Brionne Sloan, fell unconscious while swimming Monday afternoon and had to be pulled from the pool by a fellow swimmer.
Welch said he and Sloan passed lifeguards just standing around as they ran to the boy’s side.
“They didn't know what to do,” Welch said during the Wednesday interview. “They was just looking hopeless, lost, helpless. And I was like, ‘Why aren't y'all helping? Ya'll are gonna let the baby die? Why aren't y'all helping?’”
“The lifeguards were not there. They did not try to help. They actually got out of the pool,” Sloan said in separate interview with WXIA.
Recordings of a number of 911 calls, placed from the pool that afternoon and obtained by WXIA, indicate a scene of confusion with bystanders and lifeguards both trying to do something to help the boy.
One caller, who identified himself as a lifeguard, seemed to know only to call 911 and didn’t try to administer CPR.
“I'm a lifeguard and we just have a child who'd just passed out, here, we need Emergency on it right now,” he can be heard saying in the recording.
When the operator asks for the address at the pool, he doesn’t know.
“Uh, hey, what's the address here?” he can be heard shouting, presumably to onlookers.
When he tells the operator she needs to rush emergency personnel to the site, the operator assures him everything is being taken of.
“One of your other people are there talking with the 911 operator giving someone CPR instructions, OK?” she says.
But that person turned out to be a bystander, not a lifeguard on duty, according to WXIA.
Brionne was eventually revived and taken to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston and was sent home Thursday.
The pool at Browns Mill is staffed by lifeguards provided by pool management company USA Pools, the county said.
In a follow-up story, WXIA confirmed with county officials that all lifeguards on duty at the pool Monday evening were certified lifeguards.
“We would expect all of our lifeguards at all of our facilities to be fully trained and up to date and able to respond to emergencies,” said DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan.
Brennan added that the county is still investigating Monday’s incident to find out if the lifeguards responded effectively.
“We're still looking into that,” he said.