GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – All too often we report on a child who has drowned. It is the leading cause of death for children ages one to four.
But this is a story of a life saved, thanks to a family who knew CPR and a stranger who came to the rescue.
Avianna Norris is like a lot of 1-year-olds. She loves her family, dancing, and trying to do things all by herself.
Last week on a vacation with the grandparents in Myrtle beach, she sneaked outside and tried to go swimming.
Her grandmother, Dama Doyle, will never forget what that moment felt like.
“I was sitting there and my daughter just screamed, she was like, ‘Mom, she’s in the pool,’ and I automatically darted out, jumped in the pool, grabbed her out, started CPR as best as I could and at the same time just praying.”
Ted Westmoreland, a retired Army Special Forces Medic from Greenville, happened to be staying next door. He rushed to help.
“So I checked her pulse, there wasn’t one, and there was no respiration and her eyes did not react at all,” explained Westmoreland.
During his tours of duty and in his current role in global crisis response with TDG Resources, Westmoreland developed a good understanding of what to do in these situations.
“I wanted her to be resuscitated, but it was a poor prognosis and everyone knew it,” he said.
Still, he continued CPR for 10 minutes with no signs of life.
“She was a beautiful little girl, I was talking to her, rooting for her, but there was no response for a long time and that emotionally impacted everyone at the scene, so when she took that breadth it was amazing,” he said.
“I’m just thankful. Thank God that he was there,” said Doyle.
According to Avianna’s family, she was underwater between five and 10 minutes.
Emergency responders say the take-home here is don’t let time be the judgement call. Dial 911 and administer CPR no matter what.
Avianna only spent three days in the hospital. The doctors knew she was fine when she heard singing and did what she loves most.
“She popped her eyes open, she looked at my daughter, and she started doing the shimmy, she started dancing. That was God letting us know that she understands,” said Doyle.
“Of the people that I’ve worked on who were near drownings, I’ve never seen that much water come out of anyone, and it came out of her, and you know, she’s alive today, so it’s awesome. It’s awesome to be a part of that,” said Westmoreland.
For more on how you can get CPR training, contract the American Red Cross.