CPR Lessons Prove Valuable During California Pool Party

"All I knew was to keep going," Singh said.


 
 

MATT WILSON, San Jose Mercury News | | Friday, August 6, 2010


A few months ago, Vishwajith Singh never imagined that he would soon be using the CPR techniques he was practicing on a mannequin at work to actually save someone's life.

"We just joked around that it would never come that kind of a situation," he said about the training with his co-workers.

On July 3, Singh was glad he knew what he was doing as he saved the life of his neighbor and friend Sridhar Krishnamurthy.

Singh said both men were enjoying the day at the pool at their townhouse complex with their wives and children over the long holiday weekend when Singh noticed Krishnamurthy wasn't moving. Singh's quick response and knowledge of CPR were key to reviving Krishnamurthy, doctors told Singh, who was recently recognized by the Cupertino City Council for his heroic actions.

Krishnamurthy, who had recently started taking swim lessons, was practicing laps in the shallow end of the pool on the day he nearly drowned.

"I'm at the point where I can go across from one length to another in a medium sized pool," he said.

While the families were focused more on the inexperienced children swimming in the shallow end, Krishnamurthy did another underwater lap, but this time, he tried something different.

"I was in the shallow end, and I took a deep breath and went under. While swimming, I closed my eyes for some reason and I didn't realize I was swimming across into the deep end," he said. "It seemed to take too long for me to get to the wall. I came up for a breath and the water was well over my head. I didn't expect it and I panicked."

Singh noticed that Krishnamurthy had wandered into the deep end, but did not think much about it.

"He tried to get our attention by waving but we didn't hear or see anything because our attention was on the kids. We never would have thought this would happen to him because all he was doing were basic laps," said Singh.

Krishnamurthy could feel himself slipping away as he was engulfed in water more than eight feet deep.

"I could see horrible images going through my mind. When the water was still coming in, all I thought was that I was not going to be able to come out of this," he said.

It was not until Krishnamurthy stopped moving altogether that Singh took noticed.

"I turned around, and it all looked strange. There was no movement and no response. So immediately I said something was wrong, and I got out of the pool," Singh said.

Singh called for his son 13-year-old son, Sujith, who was one of the older and more experienced swimmers in the pool. Sujith raced across the pool and grabbed the much bigger Krishnamurthy and dragged him to the wall so Singh could pull him out of the water. Krishnamurthy looked pale, he looked blank and he looked strange, Singh said.

"It was scary how he looked. He was just standing in the water. He was heavy, but the water really helped me pull him up," said Sujith.

All Singh knew was that he needed to perform CPR, which he had learned four months earlier when his job offered a CPR clinic at Marvell Semiconductors in Milpitas.

"I just mechanically did it," he said.

More than two minutes went by with no response

"All I knew was to keep going," Singh said.

Singh's wife Sujatha began knocking on doors trying to get anybody who could get to a landline to call for paramedics.

"The only situation I had ever seen like this was in the movies," she said.

For more than four minutes, Krishnamurthy's body did not respond. Finally he began gasping in pain during the CPR compressions. Paramedics arrived soon after and Krishnamurthy coughed up some water. Parademics took him to the hospital as he had a very low oxygen level.

The amount of water that he took into his lungs prevented him from taking large breaths for a week. He spent about a day in the intensive care unit and another day in the hospital. He had missed more than a week of work, before returning "back to normal.

Singh and his son had no idea they would attain hero status.

"We did not realize just how important [Singh's role] was until the doctors at the hospital told us how important it was that he had performed the CPR," said Sujatha.

Others in the city got wind of the poolside heroics. The families were honored by the Cupertino City Council on July 20 with a city proclamation for Singh and Sujith.

The family's heroics also got back to Singh's coworkers who plan to take the CPR course. The CPR coordinator of Singh's last event plans to use the story in some of his lectures about the importance of knowing the skill.

"When I took the course I never thBoth men agree that an already close friendship between the two is forever stronger because of the day at the pool.

"I wouldn't have survived if it had not been for the both of them. What he learned he saved my life and the life of a whole family," said Krishnamurthy.



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