NFL coach, doctor reunite with family after saving 3-year-old from drowning
In emergencies, there’s little time to think but there are ways to be prepared.
Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris was at the Encore Hotel pool in Las Vegas over Memorial Day weekend with his family when an unresponsive 3-year-old child was pulled from the water.
Morris and another stranger, who happened to be a doctor, immediately sprang into action to save the child, a boy named Wyatt.
Now, Morris, the doctor and Wyatt's family have reunited for the first time on "Good Morning America" to share their story and stress the importance of regular safety training.
"It's truly a miracle when I try to wrap my mind around everything that happened," Kelseigh Stanley, Wyatt's mother, told "GMA."
Kelseigh and Joe Stanley said the details of the day are still a blur, but the moment their 7-year-old child told them 3-year-old Wyatt was underwater remains painfully clear.
"I was sitting in the chair, and my 7-year-old runs up to me and he says, 'Wyatt, Wyatt, he's under the water,'" Joe Stanley said. "And I went and got him, there was no heartbeat, no pulse. When I picked him up, he was face down, nose to the pool. I realized he was limp."
In the chaos of the moment, Dr. Andrew Oleksyn said he knew something was wrong.
"I ran over and when I approached Wyatt, I knew, being an ER physician, that he was in trouble," Oleksyn said. "I immediately started doing chest compressions right away, assess the child, feel for a pulse. By that point, the child had no pulse."
Simultaneously, Morris also realized there was trouble and joined Oleksyn.
"I'm sitting down and my kids all scream, I see Wyatt laying poolside and he's blue," Morris told "GMA." "I just wanted to help, and I could just feel the panic of it all. And I looked to the lifeguard and I said, 'Where is the AED machine?'"
An AED, or automated external defibrillator, is used in emergency situations to analyze the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electric shock to reestablish effective rhythm when someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Morris said in the wake of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin's on-field collapse in January, his team had received training on how to use some emergency devices, like an AED.
In between Oleksyn's compressions, Morris administered the AED, and Wyatt's pulse started to return.
"When he says, 'He has a pulse,' I started clapping," Morris recalled.
Soon after, paramedics arrived and transported Wyatt to the hospital.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of death in children 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of death in children 5 to 14.
A CDC report found that early CPR with AED application and rapid transportation to a hospital are key factors in improving survival, and there has been a recent push to expand public access to emergency medical devices such as AEDs.
"We are happy that the child is doing well, and grateful to those who assisted in his rescue, including our lifeguard who began CPR," Encore Hotels said in a statement to ABC News.
Following the harrowing incident, Oleksyn visited Wyatt in the hospital, which he described as an emotional moment.
"I got emotional at that point because it’s like not only did you save Wyatt but you saved his family," Oleksyn said.
Wyatt has been discharged from the hospital and continues to recover, according to his parents.
"It's hard to say what exactly his future is going to be because he was under the water for so long," Kelseigh Stanley said.
She added though that it was a "miracle" Oleksyn and Morris were at the right place, at the right time.
"We are truly so happy that Raheem was there and Dr. Andrew was there," she said. "God placed them all directly where they needed to be."