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Sunday Survival Story: Alexander

Updated: Jun 5, 2019

Saved by CPR adminstered by his Fire/Medic Dad

Ryan Gentilcore has seen his fair share of near-drownings in his 10 years as a firefighter/paramedic, but none as jarring as when his 6-year-old son lost consciousness in a family friend’s pool on the Fourth of July.

“It’s different when it’s your child,” Gentilcore, a Lake Worth resident and captain with Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, said Wednesday at a ceremony to honor the first responders who rushed his son, Alexander, to West Boca Medical Center after the near-drowning.

Gentilcore performed CPR on Alexander, resuscitating him within a minute-and-a-half just as a Coral Springs Fire Rescue unit arrived. It was second-nature to Gentilcore, but the longest minute-and-a-half of his life, he said.

“It takes a minute to call 911,” Gentilcore said Wednesday, recalling the calculations that ran through his mind as the incident unfolded. “It takes about four to six minutes on average for first responders to arrive.”

But it takes only six minutes without oxygen for the brain to begin to die.

“I’ve been on both sides of this now,” Gentilcore said. “We’re very lucky.”

Alexander, who was a skilled swimmer when he nearly drowned, was rushed to West Boca Medical Center’s pediatric emergency room. The 6-year-old recovered with no lingering injuries after three days at the hospital.

“CPR saved his life,” said Margaret Neddo, the director of the emergency department at the medical center.

Florida loses more children under the age of five to drownings than any other state, according to the Florida Department of Health.

“Realistically, the only advice I can give to parents is learn CPR,” Gentilcore said. “Bystander CPR is the reason people walk out the hospital neurologically intact.”

The advice was echoed by Coral Springs Fire Rescue Lt. Chris Struss, who responded to the scene of Alexander’s near-drowning.

“It makes our job so much easier, and the chances of survival much higher,” Struss said.

At the ceremony Wednesday, the Coral Springs firefighters who rushed to the scene were given the Call of the Quarter award by West Boca Medical staff. Gentilcore was given a “superhero dad” plaque, and Alexander wore a red superhero cape.

“It’s incredible (to see Alexander return for the ceremony),” Neddo said. “You don’t always have good outcomes.”

Shared from the source: Author: Lulu Ramadan

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