Off-duty Wesley doctor saves 3-year-old who drowned

11 December 2020

It was a case of 'right place at the right time' when off-duty Emergency Physician Dr Luke Jeremijenko saved the life of a 3 year-old who drowned at Newmarket pool.

On the first weekend of the school holidays, Dr Jeremijenko is passionately urging parents to supervise their children closely at the beach and in the pool this Summer.

"I was actually at the pool with my six-year-old son; we'd just finished playing pass-the-parcel and were wrapping up to go home. I noticed a young lifeguard jump straight into the deep end of the 50 metre pool. I've been going to that pool for nine years and have never seen a lifeguard jump in fully-clothed!"

Dr Jeremijenko said he sprinted over, as he noticed the lifeguard pulled up a lifeless-body from the bottom of the pool.

“I joined the lifeguard and began performing Expired Air Breathing (EAR) where we blow air into the baby’s lungs, and then took over CPR as the young lifeguard was a bit shaken.”

As an emergency doctor, Dr Jeremijenko said it was an immediate response.  

"I suppose I just remembered my training and tried to get the ratios right. Fortunately, a fully-qualified RN volunteered and was able to work with me to provide good quality CPR and EAR.”

"It’s what I do at work everyday, but it was also an immediate reaction as a father - you see a lifeless child and the first thing you want to do is help.

"Faith had no signs of life: no pulse, no breathing. People who have drowned actually get to a stage where they are beyond blue and there is no circulation - and that was young Faith when I commenced her CPR. I knew the statistics: after 4 or 5 minutes we were looking at a 50 per cent chance of survival.”

Dr Jeremijenko said he’s faced many similar emergency scenarios while on and off duty, but this was the youngest out-of-hospital arrest he has experienced, with Faith making a full recovery after spending four days in hospital.

“Unfortunately in Queensland, published papers show that most fatalities in children under five, are from gaining unintended access into a private swimming pool. Young faith was very lucky: she was less than four or five metres away from the lifeguard, Hannah, who happened to be a nursing student and jumped into the pool immediately.

“Drowning occurs in seconds and can happen any time, any place.”

Dr Jeremijenko cautioned parents to seriously consider the dangers of purchasing temporary swimming pools that put every child at risk; and urged parents to learn CPR.

“Good quality CPR saves lives. There is no doubt that Faith’s good neurological outcomes are based on good quality CPR. The Chain of survival worked.  From the lifeguard, the off-duty nurse, the emergency team and paediatric intensive care team at Queensland Children’s Hospital.  It’s a fantastic outcome for this young girl, but she is definitely a very lucky girl.”

“I don’t think there is a human being on the planet does not fear their child drowning - as a father of five, it’s certainly my worst nightmare.”

Ahead of this holiday season Dr Jeremijenko’s message to all parents is clear: “Swim between the flags, supervise your kids closely, and alcohol and supervising children shouldn’t mix over the Summer holidays.”

Read The Courier Mail's story: subscribers can access the full article here.

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