Most of us look forward to family get-togethers and celebrations, never thinking that the happiness of such good times could be stolen in an instant. But that’s what almost happened to Amy Steelman and her two-year-old, Hannah, at a birthday party for Amy’s grandmother in Norman, Okla. in August, 2010.
Both Amy and Hannah were eager to reconnect with family, and all of the kids quickly ran out of sight and earshot.
“I had a sinking feeling when I couldn’t find her,” Amy said, thinking of her grandmother’s above-ground pool in the backyard. She ran outside and saw Hannah and a cousin floating face down in the water.
In Amy’s panic, she first tried a couple of breaths but they didn’t work. Her cousin suggested compressions. Thanks to CPR, both little girls survived.
Can you tell us what you did?
I started the compressions. It only took one round, and she started coughing and vomiting. She was crying, and she had this faraway look in her eyes. It was so scary.
How in the world did you stay calm?
I knew I had to do something. In my senior year of high school, I did a nursing option program, and I learned CPR. I just knew I had to save my daughter. I think I had this feeling that I just had to be strong, that I really had to keep it all together.
How did Hannah react to all of this?
When they put us in the ambulance, they would not let me in the back with her. I could hear her crying from the front, and I think she could hear my voice. She was crying for me, so it was really hard. I just kept trying to talk to her so she could hear me.
Later, she didn’t remember what happened. All she said was that she went swimming and then she went ‘night night.’ It broke my heart.
How is Hannah now?
Hannah is great! She just learned Hands-Only CPR through her Girl Scout troop. I’m her troop leader, and I brought in some CPR trainers from Tulsa. It was very emotional. When the class started, I cried, just watching her listen to the instructor and thinking of how CPR had saved her life that day years ago. And now, she’ll be in the position to save someone else’s life.
And how about you?
I tell everyone I know — parents, grandparents, babysitters — that everyone needs to know CPR. We wouldn’t have Hannah if it weren’t for Hands-Only CPR. I thank God I knew CPR. wouldn’t have my Hannah without it.
More than 7,000 children suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest annually. Parents and caregivers are among the most important people to be trained in infant CPR, which can make a life or death difference. The American Heart Association’s Infant CPR Anytime Training Kit allows anyone to learn the lifesaving skills of infant CPR and choking relief in less than 20 minutes from the comfort of their home or workplace.