Drowning incident at outdoor pool a reminder to stay vigilant at all times, expert says

It’s usually a popular place to cool down on a hot summer day at a North Kildonan apartment complex but no one was in the water Friday after an emergency Thursday afternoon at its outdoor swimming pool.

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service crews and police said a child was transported to hospital in critical condition.

Sources said it was a drowning but the authorities aren’t giving any more updates on how the child is doing for privacy reasons because it’s a medical incident.

“At first I saw a whole bunch of people outside running around screaming. I went to go check what it was outside and suddenly just started seeing someone doing CPR, like really fast,” said Jude Jacquett, a resident of the complex who witnessed the emergency. “Everyone was freaking out.”

It happened at Concord Gardens on Louelda Street around 2 pm.

Jacquett, 18, saw several people helping the victim on the deck of the pool and first responders show up soon after.

“I was feeling pretty nauseous and pretty scared for the person that was in this situation,” he said.

Residents living in the apartment complex said in addition to being fenced off, a key is required to get into the pool area.

Swimming pools in condos, apartments and hotels are deemed semi-public by Manitoba Public Health and aren’t required to have a lifeguard on duty. But they must post signs saying so and advise users children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Rules some complex residents told CTV Winnipeg their property managers make clear to everyone.

The Winnipeg Police Service is investigating the matter, which officers said is standard anytime a child suffers life-threatening injuries or death. However, investigators said it’s still being treated as a medical incident.

Christopher Love, the Water Smart and safety management coordinator for the Lifesaving Society of Manitoba, said there have been six fatal drownings in Manitoba since January compared to eight at this time last year.

“Drowning does not imply death,” Love noted. “There is an international medical definition of drowning and so drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment due to submersion or immersion in liquid.”

Love said 85 percent of fatal drownings in Manitoba happen in natural bodies of water — like rivers, lakes and streams — or ditches. But he said swimming in pools doesn’t come without risks, especially in ones where lifeguards aren’t present.

“It’s a very small fraction of the cases that we see,” he said. “Still, every drowning death is one too many in our eyes and it’s something we want people to be thinking about safety at all times so we can bring those numbers down.”

And he said the best way of doing that is swimming in pools with lifeguards. If none are present, Love said it’s important young children are always actively supervised by an adult and within arm’s reach if they’re under seven. 

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