Bermann Francois of Powder Springs said he was barbecuing in his backyard with his kids and some out-of-town visitors that afternoon when his children ran up and informed him a neighbor had fallen into the community pool.
After the incident, Francois said he discovered the child’s mother had removed her son’s floaters in preparation to leave the pool, as its 9 p.m. closing time was approaching.
“I think she was packing everything, and unbeknownst to her, the baby had fallen back into the pool,” he said.
The firefighter from Engine 13C said he ran to help, arriving after the child had been pulled from the water.
“Someone was doing CPR on the child,” Francois recalled. “When I came in, I realized that the person wasn’t trained, so I took over.”
Francois said he delivered two full rounds of CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation because the child was not breathing.
Police arrived on the scene after he finished the first round, he said.
“When I tried to open his mouth to deliver the breath, I realized he was clenching his teeth,” Francois said. “I got my finger in to get his tongue because I thought it might be rolled back, and he bit me, so I decided to continue doing what I was doing.”
Francois said he put a rolled-up towel under the boy’s neck to help him breathe.
“When I did that, he started breathing, but it sounded like he was snoring, like he was gurgling water,” Francois recalled.
He said he continued giving the child respiratory assistance until the child’s breaths had improved to 10 to 12 per minute, at which point the fire department showed up.
An ambulance took the child to Kennestone Hospital, where he was treated before being flown to Children’s Hospital of Atlanta.
He was discharged from Children’s Hospital after three nights.
The family of the child declined to be interviewed for this story.
Denell Boyd with the Cobb County Fire Department said firefighters have a responsibility to intervene in such situations, even when they’re off the clock.
“Any time a firefighter saves a life, it is wonderful. But when it is a child, it is very special,” Boyd said.
She said all firefighters are required to have CPR and first aid certifications, for which they train annually.
Paramedics must train in those areas each month, Boyd noted.
She estimated the number of children who drown in Cobb every year to be about two to three, with about 12 to 15 sustaining injuries annually on average.
“It is really low, considering we have countless private and community pools, several lakes, the Chattahoochee and several public pools,” Boyd added.