A 6-year-old Mission Viejo girl was hospitalized in critical condition and on a ventilator today, one of two people who drowned but survived in Orange County over the weekend, authorities said.
Firefighters were called at 4:37 p.m. Sunday to a home in the 22000 block of Boltana where an off-duty paramedic who lived near the girl's family was performing CPR on the 6-year-old, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi.
"The dad went inside the house and his 6-year-old daughter and 3-year- old daughter were left unattended in the pool," Concialdi said. "When the dad checked on the girls he found the 6-year-old at the bottom of the pool."
The father screamed and pulled the girl out of the pool, the captain said. An off-duty paramedic who lives nearby started CPR on the girl, which Orange County Fire Authority firefighter-paramedics continued en route to the Mission Regional Medical Center, he said.
The girl's pulse returned en route to the hospital but she was still not breathing, Concialdi said. She was in critical condition on a ventilator in the hospital.
Just 90 minutes earlier, at 3:07, a 3-year-old boy was found at the bottom of a swimming pool at the Corte Bella condominium complex off Lombardi Aisle in Irvine, Concialdi said.
"The 3-year-old boy was in the pool with his 7-year-old brother. The 7- year-old yelled to the dad that the 3-year-old was under the water. Dad jumped in the pool, pulled out the boy, gave some rescue breaths and the child vomited," the captain said.
The child was transported to Children's Hospital of Orange County, where he was found to have fluid in his lungs, Concialdi said.
"When a child is three or under, we highly recommend parents stay within arm's length in the water because they're not strong swimmers," he said.
A 78-year-old Irvine man was in critical condition after a neighbor at an apartment complex found him underwater in a swimming pool last Tuesday. The neighbor saw him sitting at the edge of the pool when she went inside her apartment and found him drowning when she came out, Concialdi said.
That case shows "older adults shouldn't be in or around the water alone," he said.
There were 37 drowning deaths and 36 other drowning cases in Orange County in 2013, he said. Some of the people who survived "had severe neurological damage," Concialdi said.
One of those deaths came last year -- 11 years after a 22-month-old girl was found drowning in a pool, he said. She spent the rest of her life on a ventilator.
Sunday's incidents bring to 13 the number of drowning or near-drowning cases in Orange County in 2014, Concialdi said. Six of those patients died.
"They're completely preventable. That's the sad thing," he said.
"It's going to be a hot summer with lots of people in pools and adults must watch children in the water at all times. They should not be on the phone. They should not be texting," Concialdi said. There should be a designated water-watcher at gatherings, he said.
When children find themselves in danger in a swimming pool "they splash, they get scared, they panic and they breathe in and get water in their lungs," Concialdi said. They don't scream or make sounds that could alert someone nearby.
People should not go in the water after consuming alcohol or drugs, he added. Some of the drowning cases last year were adults who consumed alcohol or drugs and fell asleep in bathtubs, slipping underwater, Concialdi said.
He noted firefighters are affected when children drown or are left on ventilators. A chaplain was dispatched to provide counseling at the fire station of the paramedics who tended to the Mission Viejo girl.
--City News Service