On Friday, August 9th, I was on my way to New Jersey. My 4 year old daughter, Parker, was at the pool in our neighborhood with her daycare provider and 2 year old sister. The following is the account of what happened as I've pieced together the stories of numerous individuals.
Parker, who cannon swim, walked herself hand over hand in the 3 foot section along the wall toward the 4 foot section of the main pool. She let go of the wall when she reached for the rope dividing the sections, the rope came unhooked, and Parker went under water. According to Parker, "I reached for the rope and I went under water. I reached for the sky looking through the water and called for Ms. Lora (her daycare provider), then I went to sleep." At this point, my daughter had drowned.
She floated to the surface of the pool on her back with her eyes open and head bobbing. If it weren't for the quick actions of 2 angels that day, a 12 year old girl and another parent, I would have lost my daughter. The 12 year old reached for Parker and began lifting her to Rachael Daniels (RN), a mother and resident of our neighborhood. Rachel had witnessed the incident and assessed that Parker was not moving upon resurfacing. Rachael had been assessing the situation and at this point, Parker was unresponsive for approximately 30-45 sec, not breathing and turned blue. Rachael administered a back smack and two rescue breaths. Parker vomited water and regained consciousness.
Not only did Rachael save my daughter's life, she advocated for her. According to witnesses, "it didn't appear the paramedics/911 was going to come since she was awake and breathing." Rachael insisted that Parker be taken to an ED to be evaluated. When I spoke with the paramedic, I insisted Parker be taken to VCU Medical Center Pediatric Emergency Department. I later found out from the emergency room physician that Rachael Daniels, RN is a CN-IV in the VCUHS Pediatric Emergency Department. As an extraordinary nurse, Rachael still didn't stop there. She called report to the ED as my daughter was in route via ambulance. Parker was evaluated and kept overnight for observation in the PCU. THANK GOD my daughter is alive with only the memory of the event. I attribute her life to Rachael Daniels. Had Rachael not been at the pool that day, I believe in my heart, I would have lost my child. Unfortunately, not one lifeguard attended to my child in time and in fact, had been quoted to say she "thought Parker was doing the back float."
Having shared this with you, I am also nominating Rachael Daniels, RN for the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses as I believe she is the perfect example of how extraordinary VCU nurses take their work home with them. They are never truly "off duty." And lives are saved everyday by the critical thinking and assessment skills they possess. She was simply fulfilling "care of self" while relaxing at the pool before having to work that night. Parker fondly says "a mommy lifeguard saved me."
Rachael will forever be held in the highest esteem by me and my family and I hope we'll get to meet her one day, as a family, on dry, solid ground.