'Incredibly courageous:' Chapel Hill FD credits 2 residents with saving girl in pool

Josh Chapin Image
Saturday, May 26, 2018
EMBED <>More Videos

Chief Matt Sullivan said there's been a big push in Chapel Hill to get as many people as possible trained in "Hands-Only CPR."

CHAPEL HILL, NC (WTVD) -- The Chapel Hill Fire Department credits two residents with saving someone's life.

Firefighters said Savannah Jastram and Norman Picard noticed two young girls in the University Garden Apartments pool on Pritchard Avenue about 9:15 p.m. last Saturday.

The pool wasn't yet open for the season, but Picard said he heard someone scream from the pool, "Help, I can't breathe!"

According to firefighters, both immediately ran outside to the pool and jumped the fence. Picard jumped into the pool and Jastram dialed 911.

When they got her out of the pool, firefighters say Jastram wiped off the girl's mouth, began with two or three chest compressions, and then gave a few breaths via mouth-to-mouth. Jastram continued chest compressions and after a short time, the girl coughed and began breathing on her own.

"It's incredibly courageous," said Matt Sullivan, chief of the Chapel Hill Fire Department. "It's what we want our citizens to do -- to get involved to the level they're capable of."

Chief Sullivan said there's been a big push in Chapel Hill to get as many people as possible trained in "Hands-Only CPR."

"CPR is an incredibly valuable life-saving skill," Chief Sullivan said. "It's not just for first responders. Anybody can do it and what we know now is that the sooner you start CPR after someone stops breathing, the more likely they are to survive."

He said it's especially important this time of year.

"Summertime presents the opportunity for people to be around (water) --whether it's a lake, a pool or at the ocean," Chief Sullivan said. "There are much more opportunities for that type of hazard."

Chapel Hill has three public swimming facilities where it offers swimming lessons for all ages. The pools are also closely monitored by lifeguards.

"You want to make sure you're involved with the pool all year round," said Julia Herman, assistant recreation supervisor at the Homestead Aquatic Center, who says their facility gets increasingly busy in the summer. "You want to be prepared for summer when everyone is around the water."

Herman said if you have any reservations about going in the water, don't do it. If you do, "you want to make sure you are within an arm's reach of your child especially if they are a non-swimmer so that they're comfortable in the water."