Lifeguard saves boy from drowning at Vancouver pool

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 

When Carter Coval saw a boy floating face down in the water Friday night, he first thought the boy was playing.

But when the 17-year-old lifeguard at Lakeshore Athletic Club had a nearby swimmer nudge the boy and he didn’t move, Coval sprung into action.

“I didn’t have to think a lot, it was mostly automatic,” Coval said. “I did what I knew how to do to save the boy.”

He stayed calm and went through his checklist – a product of years of first aid and CPR training.

He pulled the 6-year-old boy out of the water and blew his whistle to clear the pool, sending the other swimmers to the locker rooms.

The boy was unconscious, had blue lips and was foaming at the mouth and nose.

While a coworker called 911, Coval checked the boy’s pulse – he had no pulse—and airways – he wasn’t breathing. So he started rescue breathing.

After four or five breaths, the boy began coughing up fluid. Coval put the boy into a recovery position, on his side, and felt the boy’s pulse to find it had returned and that the boy was breathing on his own.

“He gained consciousness about a minute before (paramedics) arrived,” Coval said. “(The paramedics) said I did what I was supposed to and didn’t make any mistakes.”

The boy, whose name was not released, is doing well, Coval said. He heard through family friends that on Saturday morning the boy was talking and had eaten a big breakfast.

Coval’s steady reaction to the stressful situation is a good sign considering he has plans of following the career path of his father, Tom Coval, who is a captain at the Vancouver Fire Department.

Carter Coval is an eagle scout and regularly trains for a number of emergency situations.

“You never actually get to implement all those skills in a real life situation,” Tom Coval said. “Finding out you actually know how to do it and respond well is really amazing.”

Immediately after the incident, Carter called his dad and the two debriefed.

“He was extremely calm and he just walked right through protocols,” Tom Coval said. “For me, that was probably the icing on the cake to see how he reacted … it’s a good indicator that he’s definitely going to be a good choice.”