New York boy meets Polk County firefighters who saved him

- It started as a relaxing family vacation, but quickly turned frantic.

The Johnson family were visiting from New York, and on December 21, Walter Johnson saw his 3-year-old son, Wyatt, floating in a Polk County pool, said fire officials. They said there was no sound, no splash, and no gasp for air to indicate when Wyatt first entered the water.

Walter yelled for help before diving in to retrieve Wyatt and immediately began CPR. 

Sarah, his mother, called 911 and took over the CPR, according to Polk County Fire Rescue. Units arrived in about seven minutes. Ten minutes after their arrival, an ambulance was on its way to the landing zone for Wyatt to be flown to Tampa General Hospital. 

By Christmas Eve, Wyatt was discharged from the hospital, just in time for Christmas. 

Polk County fire officials said Wyatt’s parents “did everything right.”

“There was a gate around the pool, plenty of adult supervision, the parents had been trained in CPR and the children had received swim lessons,” the agency wrote on its Facebook page. “In only seconds, and without sound, Wyatt nearly drowned.”

Wyatt recently met the heroes who rescued him. They allowed him to spray water with a fire truck hose and they gave him high-fives.

“We want to thank you all for your commitment to saving lives,” Sarah Johnson said. “We are grateful for your skills and compassion in helping us save Wyatt’s life from this near drowning. From the bottom of our heart, thank you for this Christmas miracle and keeping our family of four together.”

Raf Vittone, the deputy chief of medical services for Polk County Fire Rescue, said drowning is the third leading cause of death in children across the country, and the first leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4. Three children die from drowning each day in the U.S.

Florida leads the country in drowning deaths of young children.

Last year, Polk County Fire Rescue responded to 32 possible child drownings and saved 21 of the children.

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