Bystander CPR Credited with Saving Life of Near-Drowning Victim at Harford County Swim-a-Thon

From the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company:

A 911 call came in to the Harford County Emergency Operations Center on Friday, February 10, 2017, at 6:11 PM reporting a non-breathing, 16-year old female swimmer at Edgewood Middle School, 2415 Willoughby Beach Road in Edgewood.

Call information indicated that this was a result of a drowning. The 911 call taker promptly processed the call and one minute later the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company was alerted. A fire engine from the Hanson Road Station, Fort Hanson, and a paramedic unit from the Old Mountain Road South station responded. The fire engine, staffed by firefighters who are also trained as EMTs, arrived at 6:16 PM. The engine crew found a 16-year old swim team member who was out of the water and awake and talking. The crew was informed that she was competing in a swim-a-thon during a swim practice and did not surface. A teammate assisted the patient to the surface where another swimmer’s parent removed her from the water. Bystander CPR was initiated by the rescuing parent and a Swim Team Coach.

Shortly thereafter, the patient was breathing. As a precaution, the patient was taken by JMVFC paramedic unit to the John’s Hopkins Children Center in Baltimore. This is protocol following a near-drowning incident. She was released from the hospital the next day. It is believed that the swimmer suffered a shallow water blackout, which is a form of near-drowning. The Swim Team Coach is CPR certified. The parent is not CPR certified, but worked with the Coach to resuscitate the patient.

It is believed that the actions of the bystanders to initiate CPR prior to the arrival of the JMVFC undoubtedly helped save the swimmer’s life.

The American Heart Association says, “when a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby. Almost 90 percent of people who suffer out-ofhospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.” Although the JMVFC does not offer citizen CPR classes, our neighbor, the Abingdon Fire Company, does. For information on their CPR classes, visit

Shallow water blackout (SWB) prevention says, “although there are no hard statistics for SWB, it is estimated by a number of sources that SWB is responsible for up to 20% of all drownings.”

More information on shallow water blackouts can be found at

The family is requesting privacy. They have released a statement that is attached.

Family statement following the near drowning, shallow water blackout incident in Edgewood, MD on February 10, 2017.

We are incredibly grateful to the coaches, parents, swimmers and paramedics who all assisted our daughter. While everyone hopes that they never need to either receive or administer CPR, it was only because there were people trained in what to do and how to do it, that we have our daughter at home with us today. There are procedures and policies in place to deal with a life threatening incident at any school event. Everyone hopes that they never need to be used. In this instance, the training, policy and procedures worked exactly as they were supposed to and saved the life of our daughter. Furthermore, if our daughter who is an accomplished swimmer, had a
near drowning accident, we can only imagine how much more at risk of drowning the children of Edgewood and Joppa would be if the pools were to be closed and they lost their access to swim lessons. We would not wish the fear we felt with that phone call on any parent. Again, we are extremely grateful to the coaches and parents who retrieved her from the water and performed CPR on her when she was non-responsive. Had they not had that training instead of fixing our daughter breakfast the next morning, we may have been meeting with a funeral director. In addition, the paramedics who responded were professional and kind to both our daughter and our family during one of the most stressful incidents of our life.


  1. Breathing is your friend during cardio says

    It sounds like she was doing hypoxic breathing techniques to try to swim far under water. USA Swimning coaches are discouraged and Y coaches are forbidden from coaching these techniques. Not a case to keep the money pit pools open.

    • SHCS says

      Read the story again. She wasn’t being taught that. It happened during a lap-a-thon fundraiser. You know what happened, do you? A medical emergency, perhaps? Oh, wait, you weren’t there. So kindly step off. If you oppose funding the pools, that’s fine. Come to the Board of Ed meetings, like hundreds have, and let your voice be heard. A little sensitivity, maybe?

      • Breathing is your friend during cardio says

        Shallow water blackout/shallow water drowning is generally attributed to hypoxic practices. Was I there? No. In my 15 years of experience have I seen this? Yes. Do we know if she was taught this? You’re just as guilty at making assumption as I am. I watched the videos on the website, and it places fault on the swimmer (generally, I am aware that something else may have happened). The simple fact is that no one knows what happened. Plain and simple. I provided an opinion, you clearly disagree.

        Oh, and I don’t plan on “stepping off”. My opinion here is just as justified as yours.

        • SHCS says

          I actually was there. Not an assumption, but being there. So maybe, just maybe, I have a bit more knowledge. And being an assistant coach of a rec team. And an official.

          Maybe a little sensitivity, or a wish for the recovery of the swimmer, and I wouldn’t be so snarky. You obviously have some knowledge. A shame you don’t have compassion also.

  2. says

    ” Hyperventilation can be voluntary, meaning that the swimmer deliberately breathes deeper and more rapidly than normal – for example, in order to be able to hold his or her breath longer – or involuntary, such as when a swimmer deeply over breathes to recover from a set.” Since I was at this event, I can tell you that this swimmer was absolutely not doing hypoxic breathing techniques. Edgewoods coach would never have them do that nor allow it. In this swimmers case she had finished a hard set and then pushed off to swim another lap not having properly recovered from her previous set. She thought she could make the lap without taking a breath something almost every high school swimmer I know is able to do and has done before. Because she hadn’t properly recovered from her previous set, she passed out and suffered a Shallow Water Blackout. This could happen to any swimmer at any practice. But thank you for your assumptions and condescension. As a swim parent whose children have swam for the last ten years in Harford County, I know I personally had never heard of an Shallow Water Blackout before. I’d imagine that is true of most of the parents who have swimmers. Making sure our kids know they need to let their breathing return to a normal rate before heading out for the next set is imperative. But blaming the swimmer was unnecessary, inaccurate and frankly incredibly rude. If a swimmer at NBAC could die from this ( and I know they were not practicing hypox breating techniques) then it could happen to any of our swimmers without the right education. And as to the pools being money pits, they serve a vital function in our community. And compared to the annual cost and upkeep on the turf fields they are a bargain. No one ever died from lack of a turf field but the swim lessons taught in these pools to our underserved and low income children provide them with a necessary life skill. Not to mention the many rec councils, swim teams and community swim lessons that take place in them. But thanks for your incorrect, condescending opinion on what happened.

    • Cdev says

      To be fair the NBAC incident as best as can be determined happened when the kid did his own hypoxic set when left unsupervised in an unguarded pool area. That was a pure result of negligence by the pool owner and coaches!

        • Cdev says

          Our public school pools are not left unattended and coaches don’t leave athletes by them selves. That was the reckless negligence of Murray Stephens and the NBAC coaching staff!

  3. pizzle says

    How about if we all just extend our deepest thanks to the bystander(s) for saving her life and wish her well on her recovery? Save the soapbox rants for another day.

    To whoever saved her life….Thank you! As a parent of swimmers, your act really hit home with me.

  4. Swimmer2080 says

    I was there and I’m friends with the swimmer and I can promise you that no one did anything wrong in this situation. Inccidents happen and this was no ones fault. The reaction of the coaches and swimmers is a good example of WHY WE SHOULD KEEP THE POOLS! If you say this is exactly why we should close the pools than you are looking at this situation as an ignorant person. The swimmer returned next practice 100% fine and swim because it’s the sport she loves. No ones to blame in this situation.


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