Mothers: Changes are needed at Basalt pool
Two midvalley mothers who helped save a boy from drowning at the Basalt pool Monday said some procedures must be changed to avoid another tragedy.
Rebecca Henschel of Basalt and Heidi Davis of Blue Lake said they have felt for some time that the Basalt pool needs increased supervision. They take their own children there frequently and noticed the number of kids in the water sometimes seems overwhelming for the number of lifeguards.
“We’ve all been talking about it for weeks and finally something happened,” said Henschel. “We were extremely lucky that little boy survived.”
Tragedy nearly struck when seven-year-old Zane Glassier was pushed or pulled into the pool. He was swimming Monday with a group of 47 kids from Camp Chip-a-Tooth, a popular summer camp in Basalt.
Another 20 to 30 people were using the pool that day when the camp kids arrived, witnesses estimated.
Henschel said she was in the water with her daughter when she heard a man mention “that boy isn’t doing very well.”
She looked and saw Glassier bobbing in the water. Henschel said she couldn’t see the boy’s face but soon suspected something was wrong. She maneuvered over to him and saw “the most horrible expression I’ve ever seen.” Chaotic rescue scene It was obvious the boy was drowning, so Henschel grabbed him and took him to the pool side. Davis and lifeguard Cassidy Pokorny helped pull Glassier out of the water.
The rescue scene then became extremely chaotic, both Davis and Henschel said. No one among the parents, lifeguards, and teachers from Camp Chip-a-Tooth immediately stepped forward to take charge.
“Everybody froze and that’s what I’m concerned about,” said Davis.
Glassier had turned blue, rigid and didn’t appear to be breathing. Davis said she yelled for someone to call 911 while she and Henschel tried to revive Glassier. Davis also began calling out, “Does anybody know CPR?”
Lifeguard Chris Keran, 17, was off guard duty and taking a break, but heard all the shouting and came to the scene. After another instant of uncertainty among all involved, Keran started CPR efforts that saved Glassier’s life, said Davis.
“Chris definitely did save him,” Davis said.
Glassier eventually spit out water after Keran administered CPR with the help of others on the scene. An ambulance arrived to take him to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.
Glassier was in the intensive care unit Monday and switched to basic care Tuesday, according to a hospital spokeswoman. He was released from the hospital at about 3 p.m. and is resting well at home, said his father, Gary Glassier. Need EMT on staff Reflecting back on the experience, Davis said she believes the pool needs an adult on duty at all times who has a high level of medical training.
She stressed that she wasn’t criticizing any of the lifeguards and noted that the adults at the scene were just as perplexed about what to do.
But Davis said the teen-aged lifeguards and parents of kids at the pool shouldn’t be placed in a position of such responsibility in case of a near drowning or another problem. Someone needs to be on staff to “take charge” in moments of crisis, she said.
Henschel agreed that at least one adult lifeguard with medical training is needed on duty at all times. She said she and most parents she knows would be willing to pay more to use the pool if the town spent more to hire an adult lifeguard or lifeguards with medical training. Fewer users or more guards Several parents have also expressed concerns over the number of kids allowed in the pool. Linda LeStrange, a Basalt resident who regularly takes her child to the pool, said she called Basalt Town Manager Tom Baker Tuesday to raise that concern.
The lifeguards face too daunting a task trying to keep their eyes on everyone when Camp Chip-a-Tooth brings a large number of kids to the pool, said LeStrange.
“There are arms and legs and heads bobbing everywhere,” she said.
She suggested that the camp be limited in the number of kids it brings at one time, or the pool post more lifeguards on duty when there is a large number of kids.
“The bottom line is this cannot happen again,” said LeStrange.
Henschel suggested that the camp bring over smaller groups of kids who have the same skill level.
Pool director Lori Geist said the pool was adequately staffed by lifeguards Monday and easily handling the number of customers it hosted.
The pool has a limit of 200 swimmers, but wasn’t approaching that number, she noted. There must be at least one lifeguard per 50 swimmers, Geist said, so the pool was well within its safety level on Monday.
In addition to the three lifeguards on duty and two on break, who rotate during the day, Camp Chip-a-Tooth had four teachers with their group Monday, said Geist.
Teachers at the camp were assuring parents Monday that they had more teachers-per-students than the required 15-to-1 ratio.
Geist said the camp’s number of students and the accident were unrelated.
“I don’t feel it’s because they had too many kids,” she said.
The pool’s lifeguards went through a debriefing with the Red Cross after the incident. In addition, the town brought in a psychologist Tuesday to meet with them, according to Geist.
Basalt Town Manager Baker said he is reviewing the town’s pool procedures and will check to make sure its safety measures are on the same level as those of other towns.
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