Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dead little girls

My daughter just learned to swim, properly, three weeks ago. One day she was sort of drowning slowly, the next she was shooting across the pool at Mach II and hurling herself off the high diving board like a teeny tiny parachuteless skydiver. I am terrified by this. I hover by the pool, unable to take my eyes off her for even a second, certain that at any moment she will drift from my sight and sink to the bottom of the pool, graceful, peaceful, placid, brain-dead and glassy eyed. I hate the pool.

A little over a year ago, I watched a little girl named Dana die. She drowned in the pool at Marina Bandar Rawdah, right in front of me, and I was too stupid to recognize that she was drowning. For real. this little, lithe, eight year old girl, drowned, right there in the pool surrounded by me, other swimmers, and adults, who never realised she was in distress or drowning. Dana never woke up. Dana never turned nine. Dana will never graduate from high school, never learn to drive, never travel the world, never have a career, never fall in love, and never know the joy of becoming a mother, watching her children play in the park, or growing old. She is totally, truly, and forever dead.

So, if you read nothing else this week, or nothing else on this blog ever again, that's fine, but please follow this link to Mario Vittone's article on how to recognize the signs of drowning  http://mariovittone.com/2010/05/154/  I can assure you that drowning looks nothing like you or I would imagine. Please, it's very important, for your kids, and for the kids around you.

What happened after Dana died? Well, there was a lengthy, nasty lawsuit. But a better question to ask is what happened before Dana died? It's a long answer, which I'll go into at a later date,  but in summary;

  •  Parents knowingly placed Dana, who could not swim, in a pool, and walked away, assuming a non existent life guard would look after her. 
  • Dana played, and then drowned, for 15-20 minutes, in a pool full of people, none of whom recognized she was drowning
  • Dana was discovered at the bottom of the pool, Chaos ensued. and bystanders began CPR
  • It took 20-30- minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
  • Dana was transported to Khoula hospital, where she later died. 
There were a number of failures on that day, but the only ones which you and I have control over as bystanders, parents and citizens, is that we can watch our children, and we can learn to recognize the signs of drowning

 I'm blogging tis today, because according to a quick search of the Times of Oman, at least four kids have drowned just recently here in the sultanate, one of whom was in a supervised, but overcrowded school pool attending "Swimming Lessons". This really has to stop.

More from here soon, and the full story on what happened after the drowning.