Near drowning incident at natatorium under review
The City of Alice staff is reviewing surveillance footage from the Alice Natatorium and Water Park due to a near drowning incident that involved a 3-year-old girl.
The girl was pulled from the natatorium’s pool, that ranges from three-feet to 11-feet, on Sunday, July 30 by a lifeguard, according to Ray Mendoza, assistant director of operations for South Texas AirMed.
According to sources, the girl was with her grandmother at the time of the incident.
Mendoza said the grandmother turned around for a minute and that was when the incident happened. It is unknown if the grandmother was in the pool with the child.
The child was seen face down in the water when the 19-year-old lifeguard reacted and pulled her to safety. According to Mendoza, the EMS report states the lifeguard told paramedics the girl may have been submerged in the pool for one minute and a half, and had turned purple when he retrieved her.
“City staff acted appropriately. I commended the lifeguard,” said Interim City Manager Diana Lopez. “For being as young as they are they knew exactly what to do. They deserve to be commended.”
Calls for an ambulance were placed to 9-1-1 and paramedics arrived to find the child in her mother’s arms.
Drownings are a leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 14, and three children die every day as a result of drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drowning incidents occur quickly, adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distractions.
“It only takes a second,” Lopez said. “I am proud that mom and baby are OK. I’m proud that the city staff did their job and averted a tragedy.”
According to the City of Alice Parks and Recreation Natatorium and Water Park website, the purpose of the (lifeguards) and staff is not to supervise children, but to prevent accidents. Children should be closely supervised by the parents or guardians.
Inexperienced swimmers are urged to wear only United States Coast Guard lifejackets or swimwear with the US Coast Guard approved flotation device built in.
There are a total of 16 lifeguards on staff at the natatorium with the majority of them being seasoned lifeguards, Lopez said. Two lifeguards have been with the city for three seasons or more, 10 lifeguards are in their second season and four lifeguards are first timers with the city. According to Lopez, the seasoned lifeguards have been with the city at the Alice Southside pool. There are several adult (18 years plus) lifeguards. The first season lifeguards are never left alone, Lopez said.
After multiple requests, the family of the 3-year-old girl could not be reached for comment.
Source: Alice Echo News Journal