All it took was a few seconds. Just long enough to leave the room and grab a towel.
Busy mum Sandra was bathing her two youngest children, two-and-a-half-year-old Liam and nearly-one-year-old Ashley. As she watched her kids splash around, she realised she had forgotten the towels in the other room. She left to quickly grab the towels from the cupboard in that room.
I then noticed Liam out of the bath, trying to get my attention. When I realised what he was trying to get my attention for, I ran to the bathroom and saw Ashley face down in the water,” Sandra shared with Mum Central.
‘Blue and slippery’
In those brief few seconds, Ashley had gone under the water, and big brother Liam had managed to climb out of the bath to try and get help.
Panic set in as Sandra grabbed her baby girl from the bath and ran outside, screaming for help.
“She was blue and slippery as I had not gotten a towel. When I got to the front lawn, I laid her on the ground, trying to start CPR while screaming for help.”
Sandra’s neighbours, Nelson and Brett heard Sandra’s screams and rushed over. Nelson’s wife called an ambulance while Nelson and Brett began CPR on Ashley. Sandra watched on, terrified her little girl was gone.
Within 11 minutes of receiving the call, a CareFlight helicopter and crew had landed in a nearby paddock.
“They quickly bundled her up and raced her to a nearby reserve where the CareFlight helicopter had landed.
Through the work of the medical professionals, Ashley started faintly breathing, and a faint heartbeat was found. CareFlight put Ashley in an induced coma and stabilised her, and flew her to Westmead Children’s Hospital.”
For four days Sandra, her husband, Dean and their other two children, Liam and big sister, Katie, were unsure if Ashley would be okay.
We were told she might not wake up, and if she did, she would have significant brain damage.”
Four days after the accident, on her first birthday, Ashley was woken from her induced coma.
“When Ashley woke up, she was cross-eyed, however [she] has recovered very well and only has a slight learning delay.”
Ashley spent another seven days in hospital before going home. She was then monitored by Westmead Children’s Hospital very frequently until she started kindy at the age of five.
Now Ashley is a happy, confident and beautiful 13-year-old who seems no different from any of her friends.
She likes watching anime, playing video games, bike riding, swimming, canoeing and undertakes karate,” Sandra shared.
Sandra admits that the experience left her nervous for bathtime and has since never let a child under five be in the bath without constant supervision.
She also admits that the outcome of Ashley may have been different if everyone involved hadn’t acted so swiftly. It took just a split second for Ashley to go under and just 11 minutes for help to arrive.
“There’s no doubt CareFlight made a massive difference in her recovery. Everyone on the day worked so hard to help her. CareFlight are one of the biggest pieces to her puzzle,” she said.
She also hopes that her story will remind parents of how quickly accidents can happen and how important it is to be prepared.
CareFlight launches Baby Emergency Courses
CareFlight has recently announced a Baby Emergency Course nationally beginning in June with funding from Nurofen Children. CareFlight’s expert led training program aims to bridge the skill gap facing parents and carers and give them the confidence to make the right decisions in emergency and high-stress situations, such as fever, choking and performing CPR.
The course will run in each capital city from June to February 2024.
Accidents happen every single day which is why knowing what to do in an emergency is so important. If you do find your child unconscious in water, your first port of call is to always contact emergency services. Even if your child regains consciousness, they will need a medical assessment.
Please see our additional stories on water and bath safety below:
- The Swimsuit Colour Chart that Could Save Your Child’s Life
- Twin Toddlers Drown in Backyard Pool in Tragic Accident
- Just 23% of Parents Rate Their Kids’ Swimming Skills as Capable