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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Local woman credited with saving boy’s life at pool party


    Maybe it was 10 or 15 minutes. Amy Smith can’t say for certain.

    All she knows is it was probably the longest minutes of her life.

    But they were precious moments that probably saved the life of boy attending a birthday party for her 10-year-old daughter, MyKenzie Thomas, at a Jacksonville motel’s pool Sunday.

    “”I’ve been told I saved that little boy’s life,”” Smith said Tuesday. “”If it wasn’t for me being there, he probably wouldn’t be here. That’s what one of the cops told me.””

    Lisa and Harold McDade of South Jacksonville brought their 9-year-old son, Austin, home Tuesday from St. John’s Hospital in Springfield.

    “”He can talk and walk. He’s playing a video game,”” his father said shortly after they arrived home. “”We weren’t sure what was going to happen to Austin because right after he regained consciousness he had memory loss at first. He couldn’t remember even getting in the pool. He was really dazed.””

    Doctors are worried about Austin possibly developing a lung infection or pneumonia over the next couple of days because of the water that was in his lungs, but his father said the boy suffered no brain damage.

    It’s unknown how Austin ended up unconscious in the pool.

    McDade said his son remembers playing with a ball.

    “”The ball went into the pool,”” he said. “”He went in to try and get it out. After that, he’s not sure what happened.””

    Smith said she thought the boy was floating on a ball and as soon as she saw that, “”the girls yelled at me to come help him.””

    She jumped in, grabbed the boy and turned him over.

    “”I saw his little face and I knew. He was gone. He wasn’t breathing. He was unresponsive,”” Smith recalled. “”Then I just got him out of the pool. I started CPR and I didn’t stop until they told me to.””

    Everything happened quickly.

    Smith told her mother, who was helping her supervise the 12 boys and girls attending the pool party at Country Hearth Inn, to call 911. Smith also yelled for her neighbor, who was there with his child, to help her lift Austin out of the pool.

    “”I didn’t check his pulse. He was not responsive at all, so I started CPR on him. I did CPR on him for a good 10 to 15 minutes until the paramedics got there,”” recalled Smith, who is from Jacksonville.

    After about two to three minutes, Austin started moving his lips a little.

    “”As I was doing more CPR, he was trying to breathe. He was gasping for air and the water just kept coming out, coming out as I was doing CPR,”” she said. “”By that time, the paramedics got there and basically took over.””

    Austin was taken to Passavant Area Hospital and then flown to the Springfield hospital.

    “”I was a mess Sunday night,”” Smith said. “”I couldn’t sleep. I was so upset. I didn’t know what was going on with him.””

    Her daughter was upset until Smith told her Austin was doing fine. Smith learned that Monday night when she talked with the boy by phone while he was still in the hospital.

    Harold McDade said the incident has prompted him to do something to educate children at his son’s school, South Elementary, about water safety.

    “”I was talking to Amy about the possibility of the principal talking to the children about water safety because we don’t want this happening to any other children,”” he said.

    Smith has been working off and on since 2005 as a certified nursing assistant. She took CPR training last year because a job that required it.

    “”This was the first time I ever had to resuscitate a child,”” Smith said. “”It was very scary. I kept on going and going. It just seemed like a lifetime to me. But I wasn’t about to let anything happen to him. I made sure of it. I just did what I had to do.””

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