Jackson Newspapers - Ripley, WV
  • Lifeguard, nurse combine to save drowning girl

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  • RAVENSWOOD - Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotional state consisting of psychological and psycho-physiological responses to a real external threat or danger.
    On Friday afternoon at the Ravenswood City Pool, a lifeguard and a nurse had little time to be fearful. They had to react.
    Lifeguard Damian Morriston is a 2012 Ravenswood High graduate who is attending Marshall University and majoring in Exercise Science.
    Sarah Green Gandee is a 1995 graduate of Ravenswood High and is employed as a Registered Nurse in Jackson General Hospital's Critical Care Unit.
    As the whistle sounded alerting swimmers to clear the water for a scheduled break, Morriston and fellow lifeguard Kirsti Babylon decided to go for a quick dip in the water and they entered the pool. What happened next was a horrifying event.
    "As I approached the five foot area of the pool I saw a young child just bobbing up and down in the water. I swam to her as fast as I could and established that she was unconscious," said Morriston.
    The young lifeguard in his second summer of service at the pool called out for 911 to be called and Babylon went inside to make sure the call was made and management was alerted.
    Morriston pulled the girl to the edge of the pool where Gandee had just arrived with her husband Adam and their children.
    The unconscious girl's father had jumped into the pool and raced to where his daughter was being pulled onto the concrete. The father declined to be interviewed.
    What Gandee saw was a 6-year old girl who had stopped breathing and had turned blue with no vital signs. Robin Fletcher had also approached the area to provide any help she could.
    Gandee began to put 13 years experience as a nurse to the ultimate test as time was essential.
    "I was in a zone, honestly," said Gandee.
    Gandee performed CPR on the girl and was able drain the youngster's lungs of enough water that she was able to breath and become responsive.
    While she worked on the girl for several minutes, the hearts of a community hung in the balance as they watched helplessly, longing for a storybook ending.
    "We are taught in our training that when someone more qualified than yourself is present that you let them take over and that is what I did," said Morriston.
    Gandee was unsure of how long it took her to get control of the unfortunate situation.
    "I was so focused on the girl that I lost track of everything that was going on around me. Time moves so fast in those situations. I simply applied the training and experience that I have. I feel like any qualified person would have done what I did. You just react," said Gandee.
    Page 2 of 2 - Paramedics arrived and the girl was transported to Women and Children's Hospital in Charleston where she was released the next day after observation.
    It was established later that the situation began when the young girl lost her footing in the pool.
    Gandee is PALS certified. PALS (pediatric advanced life support) certification can be important for anyone who works directly with children in the healthcare field. The PALS program was created as a joint effort between the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The training equips health care professionals with the essential skills to effectively recognize and react to critical injuries or conditions in children and infants.
    "There was a lot of people there and the other lifeguards were doing a good job of keeping people away from the scene and taking control," said Adam Gandee.
    All lifeguards at the Ravenswood City pool, including Morriston are CPR and AED (Automated External Defibrillator) certified.
    "All employees serving as lifeguards have proper certification," said Ravenswood mayor Michael Ihle.
    It was the first time Morriston had encountered a situation quite like this.
    "You hope that something like this never happens. I take my job seriously and I am thankful that the girl is doing well. In the end, that is all that matters to me."
    Gandee has become annoyed with the chatter about the incident that took place over social media.
    "So many untruths were being spoken about the situation. So many mean, hurtful comments that were unwarranted. The bottom line is that everyone involved reacted and did their very best to help this little girl and fortunately there is a happy ending," said Gandee.
    "We worked as a team."
    Fear is a very real thing but Gandee and Morriston aren't scared.
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