CHRISTMAS PAST AND PRESENT – A MEMORY THAT IS FOREVER IN MUM, MEL’S, MIND
Christmas is a time of family get togethers, fun and festivities.
As the sun shone on Boxing Day 14 years ago, life was feeling pretty good. Mel Anderson was celebrating with her extended family, sitting outside with her little 10-month-old son Matty crawling around at her feet.
Matty wasn’t quite walking and with so many family members around, everyone was looking out for this precious little boy celebrating his first Christmas.
“One second he was at my feet and the next, I looked down and Matty was gone”
Matty’s family searched the house and suddenly noticed that the entrance to the glistening pool was compromised. Seconds later, Matty’s Dad was diving in the pool and pulling out his unresponsive little boy.
Matty’s Pop launched into action having only done a CPR course 2 weeks earlier. His training was fresh in his mind and he began to work on his Grandson.
“I can remember standing outside and calling Triple 000. Begging them to come quick as my son had drowned,” Mel told us with tears in her eyes as she recalls that fateful moment, believing her precious son has died.
As the Paramedics arrived, Matty’s Pop was still doing CPR and they quickly bundled him into the ambulance and took him to hospital.
As Mel arrived at the hospital, she was shown into a room and given the devastating news by the Doctors.
“Matty is still unresponsive. He is in a coma and we don’t think he will come out. If he does, he won’t be the same little boy. He will very likely have severe brain damage. I’m so sorry.”
Mel felt like her world had fallen apart. How could she have been enjoying this beautiful moment with her family just hours earlier and now she was being told that her little boy may never wake up.
Days passed and with them so did Mel’s hope as Matty showed no signs of coming out of his coma.
“I felt helpless. I blamed myself. It was seconds. How did he get all the way to the pool without any of us seeing?” said Mel.
As day 4 approached, the Doctors told Mel that it was now or never. They would try to bring Matty out of the coma and see what lay ahead.
What happened next felt like nothing short of a miracle. Within minutes of Matty being woken, he was crawling around the bed like nothing had happened.
“I couldn’t believe it. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. It didn’t feel real. I was holding my baby in my arms and sobbing”.
Doctors couldn’t explain Matty’s recovery other than because of the quick-thinking action and knowledge of his Pop jumping straight to CPR, Matty’s brain wasn’t short of oxygen for as long as they thought. His Pop had truly saved his life.
Life after Matty’s close call
Matty is now a happy, sporty, 14 year old who is full of life and thankfully has no recollection of this experience.
“He keeps me on my toes! He loves the water, footy and just generally loves life. I’m so incredibly proud of the boy he is today”, Mel shared with us with a beaming smile.
Every Christmas and Boxing Day Mel recalls that time 14 years ago. She relives the moment that she realised he was out of sight and feels sick to her stomach.
Christmas is still a time of celebration for the Andersons, but it doesn’t pass without an acknowledgement that life could be very different.
“My message to parents is to know that it really does take a split second for them to be out of your view. There were so many adults around and yet it still happened. Active adult supervision is so incredibly important as is ensuring your pool fence meets all the requirements and is always closed. It’s so easy for things to go wrong. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if Matty hadn’t pulled through. “
To help keep children safe in and around water, there are four important steps you can follow – to ensure maximum safety, it’s important that all of these steps are used together.
Active adult supervision of children is essential to reduce the risk of drowning. For toddlers, this means having an adult within arm’s reach at all times when they are in or around water. For older children, it’s important there is an adult within the immediate area who is ready to enter the water in an emergency.
2. Restrict access
Restricting children’s access to water can include placing a barrier around the body of water (e.g. a pool or spa barrier) or placing the barrier around a child’s environment (e.g. creating a fenced safe play area on a farm that is away from water hazards like dams and animal drinking troughs).
It’s important that pool and spa barriers are regularly checked and maintained to ensure they are in proper working order.
3. Water Awareness
Water awareness and learn to swim classes can assist in helping children to become familiar with water, teaching them about water safety and how to swim.
4. CPR / First Aid Knowledge
Having the skills to respond in an emergency situation can mean the difference between life and death. Kidsafe Victoria encourages all parents and carers to enrol in a CPR/first aid course and to update their skills regularly. Hopefully they are skills that you will never have to use, however undertaking a course will assist in ensuring you are equipped to respond if an emergency does arise. It is also a good idea to place a CPR chart in your pool or spa area for easy reference.
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.