It was hot, as Oklahoma Augusts tend to be. And with a house full of relatives and birthdays to celebrate, the kids were ready for the pool.
After getting her two-year-old daughter Hannah’s bathing suit on, Amy Steelman headed upstairs to change clothes and take her daughter to the pool. When she came back downstairs, Amy started looking for Hannah. Immediately, she had a feeling something was wrong because her daughter was nowhere in sight.
“I heard my aunt screaming, and I just started running,” she recalls.
She headed for the wrap-around porch and above-ground swimming pool. From the door, she could see that her daughter and her cousin’s two-year-old daughter both were being pulled from the water. They both had been floating face-down in the pool for what Steelman estimates was less than two minutes.
She immediately started CPR on Hannah, while her aunt and cousin performed
CPR on the other 2-year-old.
“It was so hectic because there were two of them,” she said. “But I come from a medical family. By the grace of God, I was calm. I knew she needed CPR. When I gave her a breath and saw her chest rise, I had an overwhelming feeling that she would be OK.”
After only one round of chest compressions and rescue breaths, Hannah started
coughing up pool water.
“If we wouldn’t have started CPR when we did, I firmly believe they wouldn’t have survived,” she said. “It’s such a limited timeframe that you have.”
Amy learned CPR when she took medical classes and worked at Saint Francis Hospital as a patient care technician when she graduated from high school.
“It had been several years since I had worked there, but it was something I never forgot,” she said. Since then, she has taken several CPR refresher courses and she has started telling her story as a volunteer with the American Heart Association and Citizen CPR, which teaches AHA courses.
Steelman has made CPR education her personal mission. Because of CPR, the two toddlers survived drowning, which is the No. 1 cause of accidental death for children younger than 4.
“Older people are not the only ones who may need CPR,” she said. CPR can be used after a drowning, poisoning, electrical shock, choking, trauma and many other accidents that could cause the heart to stop.
Knowing CPR also helps the responders remain calm and stay focused.
“I can’t imagine if none of us had known what to do,” she said. “Just sitting there and waiting for an ambulance would have been a terrible feeling.”