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Red Cross Skills Become a Fathers Day Gift

John Didde  Family
We’re eternally grateful for the Manley girls, knowing that we can never repay them for what they did.

Dino Ingram is a Red Cross volunteer and contributing writer.

This is a very difficult article to write. There’s no way that I can present it with the desired emotional impact. So, I’m taking very little creative license here and am going to let a father tell the story. I made some minor changes to the phrasing and flow, to let his story unfold. A story told through the loving eyes of father …who almost lost his son.

My name is Jon. My wife Jamie and I were attending a three-day conference in Kansas City with our children. Molly was 7 and Myles was 4. We'd promised the kids a trip to Worlds of Fun on Father's Day, if they were "good" during the conference. On the final day of the conference we decided to hit the pool.

It was divided into two areas – one with a hot tub and children’s pool, and another with an adult pool. We'd been there for about an hour. I was sitting with some co-workers, watching my kids, swimming and having a great time. I looked away briefly to check an email and say something to a friend, when I heard a friend scream my name, “Jon!” Myles, my four year old, 3’6” son, had somehow left the hot tub area and gotten into the adult pool. We ran over and pulled him out of the water, only to see his blue face and grey, still body, the color of pool concrete. He was limp, lifeless, his lungs gurgling - the image of what appeared to be my dead son.

What happened next was fluid, efficient and perfectly orchestrated. One person contacted the front desk while another called 911. My friend, John Newland and I began very remedial CPR. Despite our best efforts, we failed to make any significant progress in reviving my son.

Another friend of mine realized two off-duty lifeguards, Liz and Alison Manley, were nearby. The sisters, 15 and 18, recently trained by the Red Cross in CPR, took over on compressions and breathing.

Alison took over directly above Myles and Liz near his feet. Alison started compressions, Liz gave instructions. They turned him on his side, cleared the airway as he expelled water. They continued chest compressions and rescue breathing, working feverishly yet staying calm and coordinated. They were a perfect team.

As the scene unfolded, so many things went through my mind. It seemed that seconds, minutes and hours passed, all at once. I saw his life flash before my eyes, the vivid image of my beloved son, wearing his favorite Lightning McQueen jammies and then his t-ball uniform. All at once I was filled with both regret and hope. "What kind of a father lets this happen?", "Stay with me buddy!" "C’mon Myles", "I don't want to live without you buddy!" and finally "God help, somebody, do anything!" Then it happened. Myles slowly opened one of his eyes and began to cry. I picked him up and held him.

The next twenty minutes were a whirlwind of activity. I saw my daughter, protected, and comforted by my friend’s wife. The hotel staff checked on my son’s progress while the EMT’s loaded him in to the ambulance. At the hospital, we were told that Myles was fine, both physically and mentally.

The Manley girls, who I didn't see the rest of the weekend, had saved Myles’ life, effectively using CPR taught to them by the Red Cross. We’re eternally grateful, knowing that we can never repay them for what they did. Not a single day goes by without our family talking and thinking about these "Angels" who saved our son’s life.

Myles was dismissed from the hospital the next morning and, despite everything that happened, was adamant about going to Worlds of Fun. This was the best Fathers Day gift I could have ever received, watching my wife, son and daughter reunited and healthy, playing together again! No days are taken for granted any longer!