This letter was received from reader Stephen Quinlan, a 50-year-old hagwon co-owner and resident of Jeju Island since 2010. He wrote to The Weekly about a recent drowning incident at Gwakji Beach, Aewol-eup. If you would like to write to the editor please send a letter within 500 words to email@example.com. Letters may be edited before publication. - Ed.
To the editor,
On June 6, a glorious sunny holiday on Jeju, I took my family to Gwakji Beach where we joined many holidaying families from the mainland. We arrived in the morning and set up, only to discover that a step or two away were some rusty nails and bolts sticking just out of the sand. I felt energetic this day and decided to dig it out with my hands, resulting in unearthing a large metre in diameter wooden spool, the type used to dispense electrical cable.
After lunch we returned to the same spot as before so the kids could play in the big hole I had made. As we were setting up, my wife's wavering voice told me that something was very wrong, I turned quickly and raced to the water's edge in time to see a distraught woman flop a blue faced and unconscious toddler on the sand in front of me. Recalling my own near-drowning incident, I quickly turned the body upside down and squeezed the stomach and the back and was pleased to see a white smelly fluid escape from the child's lips.
There were others around me also attempting to help the child; it was noisy and everyone, including myself, was focused on the child's rescue. My wife was behind me interpreting my instructions into Korean for the frantic crowd because up to this point no one had stepped forward as an emergency aid professional and it was before beaches officially open on Jeju Island. So, I took the initiative, recalling my Industrial First Aid training in Canada.
After draining the child's lungs, it was time to check for vital signs. I asked for quiet so I could listen for breathing. I knelt down and placed my ear next to her mouth and was very relieved, incredulous, actually, to hear her breathing on her own. I repeated the action and was suddenly greeted by the child's opening eyes. I said, "Hello," and smiled at her. CPR was not necessary. After that a couple of men and I carried her to a tent and laid her in the recovery position (on her side) on a towel.
I then instructed her to be left alone and on her side until the ambulance came. I then returned to where my family was set up, satisfied with what I had done. The two men next to me during the rescue congratulated me with a hand shake. The last image I have of the child is of the father walking across the sand with her, tired eyes looking back from whence she had come and probably really not aware of what had just taken place, with the ambulance "driver" giving her a cursory look.
Bottom line: the child was strong and I can only ascertain that she had not been unconscious for very long. She was very lucky.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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