An off-duty Penticton fire captain and a Good Samaritan were recognized by the BC Life Saving Society on Saturday for their heroic efforts rescuing a drowning child in Okanagan Lake last summer.
Penticton resident Meghan Thompson and her daughters, aged 8 and 11, were enjoying the day in June at Manitou Beach and Park in Naramata when a near-tragedy occurred.
Thompson’s daughters were in the lake playing when they spotted a toddler floating head down in the water.
Her eldest daughter, Kennedy, came running onto the beach to alert her mom.
“She came running out to me and said, ‘mom, I need your help, I don’t think this baby is OK,’” Thompson told Global News.
Thompson said she dropped everything and ran waist-deep into the lake.
“I grabbed the baby — he was just so heavy, he was completely unresponsive. He was floating with his legs and arms wide open at the very top of the water, face-down,” she recalled.
“I ran back to the shore and I was yelling at this point, ‘Somebody help me, Somebody help me.’”
Fortunately, Chad Taylor was on the beach that day. The off-duty firefighter sprang into action and began performing CPR on the 18-month old boy.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be,” Taylor said.
“I can’t recall how long I was doing CPR, just less than a few minutes and he started to make some noises and come around, so his colour came back, his pulse came back, he started breathing, so yeah it was a very intense scene.”
The toddler’s family was nearby, but seemingly unaware he had wandered off.
Chad’s CPR was able to bring the boy back to consciousness as he coughed, vomited, and began to regain his normal colour.
The pair stayed with the boy and his mother until emergency services arrived to rush the boy to the hospital where he made a full recovery.
Thompson and Taylor were two of fifteen British Columbians recognized by the BC Life Saving Society at a virtual awards ceremony on Saturday.
They were presented Silver Medals for Bravery.
“Every year we award members of the public who have made water-related rescues, and it was Chad and Meghan who rescued a child out of Okanagan Lake last year, so we wanted to recognize them with rescue awards for having saved a life from drowning,” said executive director Dale Miller.
Salmon Arm boy Cody Krabbendam was also recognized with a bravery award for rescuing another boy struggling in the water without a life-jacket.
Krabbendam also received the George A. Brown Memorial award and scholarship for the most heroic rescue performed by a pre-teen.
As the 2021 summer season approaches, Miller encourages beachgoers to take safety precautions near the water.
“Many people will be surprised that we have already had nine drownings this year and we are just coming up to the nice weather where a lot of people will be out at our beautiful waterways, so we want to remind everybody, if you’re out in a boat, please wear a life-jacket,” he said.
“Parents need to be very close to their children when they are around water and making sure their child is wearing a personal flotation device, and know the waters you are going into.”