Sheridan McMahon hugs her little girl Christina tightly after a harrowing ordeal on Saturday where she nearly drowned in the family pool.
Sheridan McMahon hugs her little girl Christina tightly after a harrowing ordeal on Saturday where she nearly drowned in the family pool. MAX FLEET

Neighbour saves girl from drowning

QUICK thinking, a heroic neighbour and Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) skills saved the life of a three-year-old Bargara girl on Saturday, after a near-fatal accident in her family’s pool.

Mum Sheridan McMahon was watching from the side of the pool as Christina and her older brother Nicholas splashed and played in the water on Saturday afternoon.

But in just a split-second, something went wrong and young Christina started to struggle.

“(Sheridan) was hooking up the Christmas lights and watching the kids play, and she saw Christina go under,” father Dan McMahon said.

In the short time she was under the water, Christina had stopped breathing.

Just as Mrs McMahon reached her daughter, back-up help came in the form of a heroic neighbour who scaled a 1.8metre fence to rescue the tiny child.

“She was not breathing when they pulled her out,” Mr McMahon said.

“Luckily (next door neighbours John and Sandy Sajko) heard Sheridan screaming, and John had done a CPR course the week before.”

Policeman Mr Sajko helped Mrs McMahon breathe life back into her little girl, performing CPR for up to four minutes before Christina started coughing and breathing on her own.

“By the time the ambulance arrived, she was conscious and awake,” Mr McMahon said.

“It’s unbelievably lucky that John was home and heard Sheridan screaming, we are so grateful to him.”

After spending a night in Bundaberg Hospital, Christina was as bright and chirpy as ever — and keen to get back into the water.

Mr McMahon said the whole family would be lining up to do CPR classes this summer, and he would be encouraging everyone he knew to take them as well.

“It saved her life — it shows what a vital skill it is,” he said.

Queensland Ambulance Service Burnett Coast station officer-in-charge Warren Smith said Christina was extremely lucky her rescuers knew CPR.

“They did all the right things, they called triple-0 and started CPR,” Mr Smith said.

“By the time the ambulance officers arrived she was breathing on her own and had regained consciousness, which goes to show what early recognition and life-saving skills can do.”

The Royal Life Saving Society Australia said there was a 16 per cent rise in drownings across Australia in the 12 months to July 2009 — with 32 children aged between zero and four years drowned in the last 12 months.

In the latest tragedy, a one-year-old drowned in a backyard pool in Yarrawonga, central western NSW, at the weekend.

“One drowning is too many — we would like to see people, everyone really, undertaking CPR courses, they’re very accessible and easy to undertake,” the society’s CEO Rob Bradley said.

Where to learn

For more information visit the Royal Life Saving Society’s website at homepoolsafety.com.au.

CPR classes are available through Surf Lifesaving Australia, telephone 1300 766 257, or the Red Cross, telephone 3367 7417 for details of courses in Bundaberg.



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