Baby rescue nurse hopes to raise CPR awareness
A nurse who helped save a baby’s life after the pushchair he was in fell into a marina says she hopes the incident will help raise awareness of the importance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Psychiatric nurse Tanya Allen was one of the first on the scene when six-month-old Sam Cooper-Stevens was pulled from the icy waters of Watchet, Somerset, shortly after 8am on Sunday.
Dock master George Reeder immediately jumped in to help after Sam’s mother, Kate, began screaming for someone to rescue her child.
Mr Reeder, 63, dived in to bring the baby to the surface, where a team of rescuers quickly fashioned a hoist to pull Sam from the water.
Mrs Allen, 43, heard the baby’s mother’s calls for help and immediately began performing resuscitation.
The baby began coughing shortly after being laid down on the marina wall and was later transferred to hospital, where his condition is said to have vastly improved.
Sam’s rescue has been described as “a miracle” by well-wishers and members of the community.
Mrs Allen claimed her actions were “instinctive” but said a greater knowledge of resuscitation across society would further reduce the risk of fatalities in the future.
Speaking from the scene of the accident, Mrs Allen, who lives locally and was off-duty at the time, said: “I am so pleased that I have been trained several times, year after year.
“My husband said to me: ‘I’m so glad you knew what to do, because I wouldn’t.’”
Reliving the incident, Mrs Allen described how she feared the worst when the baby was pulled from the water.
“Some water then started to come from his mouth, he started to take a few breaths,” she said.
“I thought to myself: ‘Maybe it is going to be okay’, but I didn’t think it was going to be.
“I didn’t think he was going to survive, to be honest, no. But I thought I will do it (resuscitation) anyway. You know, you’ve got to have a go.”
Mrs Allen said it was the first time she had ever performed CPR on a person and admitted she had previously been concerned about damaging the chest cavity of such a small child, but said adrenaline took over.
She also described Mr Reeder as “superman” and praised the emergency services for their swift response to the 999 call.
But Mr Reeder downplayed talk of his heroics, saying: “I’m just the fella that jumped in. I am glad I could help.”
The baby was in the water for five minutes before rescuers managed to bring him to safety. It is believed a freak gust of wind was responsible for tipping the pushchair into the water.
Today, 24 hours after the incident, Sam’s father Martyn Stevens made an emotional return to the scene where he paid tribute to rescuers.
Mr Stevens said: “I want to say thank you to everyone that helped out.
“The response of everyone was amazing and I don’t think you can get any better than that. It goes to show Watchet is a great place.”
Mr Reeder, a keen surfer, said his adrenaline simply kicked in when he heard screams for help.
Recalling the rescue, he said: “I don’t know exactly how he went in, but I was on the esplanade and heard the commotion and I assumed somebody’s dog had gone into the water, so I went cycling over.
“They were on the West Pier, where you walk up to the lighthouse, some way away, but the noise travels and I could hear screaming from a woman.
“The mother was there and she said ‘my baby has gone in the water’, so I went to the edge and I could see the pushchair upside down, floating away.
“I just jumped in and pulled the pushchair back over to the edge of the quay, and then somebody put a rope down over and I tied it on and they lifted it out.
“As far as I know, what the police told me was that the wind blew the buggy in.”