Near-drowning victim revived at birthday party - - The News for South Mississippi

Near-drowning victim revived at birthday party

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MADISON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

All of the people responsible for saving a 5-year-old child are trained in some way in rescue, CPR, or the field of medicine, and they were all at a child's birthday swim party when the unthinkable happened.

The chain of events began when someone pointed out something strange to State Senator Will Longwitz.

"At that point, life saving training kicked in and I went in," Longwitz said. "He was face down on the bottom of the pool."

"The next thing you know, I saw the kid lying on the side. I don't even know how he got there," said Physician's Assistant Percy Smith.

U.S. Park Ranger Bill Ramsey, who's trained in CPR, said 5-year-old Wilhem Engle was "blue like a smurf."

Bill Ramsey's wife, Cathy, who a nurse anesthetist, started giving Wilhem breaths.

"My first inclination was to attempt to establish an airway. So I started mouth to mouth," Cathy Ramsey said.

"I started compressions. I probably got about 10 compressions in and that's when he started to vomit the water back up," Bill Ramsey said.

Dr. Dave Derr, a radiologist, also assisted.

"We just rolled him afterward. I monitored to make sure things were progressing as they should," Derr said.

Within 24 hours, you would have never known Wilhem coded that day.

"They helped him breathe. And his heart wasn't beating so they helped it beat. And that's what CPR is," explained Dr. Derr.

The event was a nightmare for Wilhem's mom, Jodie Engle. Her husband and Wilhem's dad, Jason, was working out of town that day.

"I never thought in a million years something like that would happen to my child. It's something that happens to other people's children," Jodie said.

The pre-accident scene was typical of a child's birthday celebration.

"People were just getting there. There was a lot of commotion among adults," Longwitz said.

"There were people all over that pool. All in the pool, surrounding it. A mother with her 2-year-old in the pool and no one heard it. No one heard a thing," Jodie said. 

Dr. Derr says that's not uncommon.

"That's what people don't understand. Drowning isn't like in the movies. They don't splash. It's quiet," Derr said.

"I was just in the water and I was yelling as loud as I can but the water was trying to stop me and it was stopping me," young Wilhem explained. 

Jodie Engle, who's nine months pregnant, has instantly become an adversary of complacency. 

"Wilhem always does for the most part what we tell him to do. I just had a false sense of security," Jodie Engle said.

"I thought it was my fault because I didn't listen to mom," Wilhem said. 

As Jodie clutches the swimsuit her son almost died in, her mission now is to make sure this never happens to another child or parent. It was a horrifying event that had the best possible outcome, and one that Jodie says bonds these families for life.

"They're heroes in our life. They always will be. Wilhem loves super heroes and they're our super heroes," Jodie Engle said.

Friends of the Engle's have already set up a Swim Safety and CPR class to be taught by the Madison Police Department.

It will be held Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Saint Anthony Catholic Elementary in Madison. It is free and open to the general public.

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