WAPAKONETA — Jackson Center Schools Superintendent William Reichert was among a group of people who saved a 4-year-old girl from drowning Tuesday at the Wapakoneta WaterPark.
The girl, who was identified in a news report as being from northwestern Ohio, was “doing fine,” her mother told Reichert, who had called Wednesday to check on the child.
Reichert said he was at the water park Tuesday because he had been promising his children for some time that he would take them there. He’d been there about 45 minutes when he “just looked over” and saw a little girl trying to hold on and then sinking into the water. The girl already was turning blue and her eyes were “real, real big,” he said.
Reichert grabbed the girl and pulled her out of the water. “I started chest compressions right away,” he said.
Reichert said he breathed into the girl’s mouth a couple of times and “water just poured out of her mouth.”
He estimated he had done about three cycles of CPR when other people showed up to help. The girl’s color started coming back and “we got a blink out of her.” Two women — a nurse and a respiratory therapist who happened to be at the park — relieved Reichert.
Reichert said the Wapakoneta EMS arrived quickly. The girl’s condition continued to improve. “She started crying,” he said.
According to a news report, the girl was first taken to Lima Memorial Health System and then Columbus Children’s Hospital. She was able to return home Wednesday. On Thursday, the girl’s mother met with the four lifeguards and the two women at the water park to thank them. Reichert was unable to attend the meeting.
Reichert said the girl’s mother was playing with another of her children at the time the incident occurred.
Reichert, who has had CPR and first-aid training in connection with his jobs as a teacher and coach, said this was the first time he has had to use CPR in an emergency situation. He recalled he used the Heimlich maneuver “a long time ago” when someone was choking.
His training apparently served him well this week. He said everything happened so quickly that he just responded to the emergency. “There’s no thinking,” he said.