The only thing that might be scarier than having a near-death experience is watching someone close to you go through the same thing. Thankfully, there are some heroes out there who keep a close eye on things and jump in when you least expect it to save the day.
A young boy making a wayward tumble into a pool could have ended in tragedy were it not for the girl next door watching it all go down, then alerting the person she knew could help.
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A Stroke Of Luck
Life is full of miracles. It doesn't always feel like it, but given how many people there are in the world, it's safe to say that at any given moment, someone somewhere is in the right place at the right time and reaping the benefits of it.
Sometimes, it isn't their own benefit they're reaping, but rather having the chance to help someone in dire need. One circumstantial moment truly has the power to change lives.
Just The Right Moment
Kansas resident Tom Westerhaus knows this all too well. When presented with the opportunity to be a hero, he leaped into action before he could even think—though not out of selfish desire.
It all began when Westerhaus' 12-year-old daughter, Maddox, rushed to tell him that she saw the neighbor's preschool-aged boy fall into their pool. Thankfully, Westerhaus had been trained as a lifeguard in his youth, and as soon as the need arose, he remembered all of his rescue lessons perfectly.
Saving A Life
Security-camera footage captured his heroic act, first chronicling his dive into the pool and his swim back to the surface with the 4-year-old boy in his arms. He placed the boy on the concrete at the pool's edge and began administering CPR. At this point, the boy had been underwater for over three minutes.
After two minutes of chest compressions administered by Westerhaus, the boy began breathing on his own again, right as emergency services arrived to help him.
A Moment's Distraction
His mother, Alexis Rigney, had been taking care of her 4-month-old when she noticed the back door was open and her son, Xzavier, was missing from the home. By the time she noticed and rushed outside, she reported already being able to hear sirens in the distance.
Thankfully, Westerhaus had already arrived. When Rigney made it outside, Xzavier was already coughing up water and coming back from the harrowing drowning he experienced after simply wanting to play outside.
Westerhaus is nothing short of a hero.
Paramedics confirmed that if he hadn't swept in to perform CPR on Xzavier after he'd fallen into the pool, it's likely that the boy wouldn't have survived. Both Westerhaus and Maddox received Hometown Hero awards from Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical for saving the young boy's life and acting fast in order to do so.
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children, so the fact that Maddox saw what happened was a miracle in itself.
On Your Toes
There's definitely a lesson here about staying up to date on life-saving techniques such as CPR, as you never know when you're going to need them. Being trained on it because it's part of your job is handy, but you wouldn't want to be the only person in a dire situation who can help and not know what to do.
It's our duty to remain vigilant and protect our fellow man, which includes stepping in to save someone if the time ever calls for it.
It's also worth mentioning Xzavier's mother, who must have felt heart-dropping fear in those moments. Being a mother of two very young children is extremely hectic. While you could argue that yes, this shouldn't have happened in the first place as she should have been watching both of them, it's not particularly helpful, and it's something she surely knows already. She got turned around for a few minutes with her other child and, unfortunately, sometimes that's all it takes.
No one likely feels worse about this situation than she does, and you can rest assured she has learned her lesson. This isn't something anyone would want to go through once, let alone twice.
Someone To Trust
Lastly, this experience will hopefully serve as a reinforcement to Maddox that she should always, always pipe up if she sees something questionable or dangerous taking place. Her parents, including her life-saving father, appear to have raised her well in that regard, and knowing she got to help save someone because of it should only further instil that trait. Being someone others can trust in moments like this is invaluable.
Community help and support are imperative in moments like these. Being able to rely on your fellow neighbor for help, even dire help like this scenario, is what collective living is all about.