LIMA — When Candice Ditto was reunited Sunday with the two deputies and paramedics who saved her 18-month-old son’s life after he nearly drowned in a pool she was almost at a loss for words.
“I said I love you and thank you,” she said.
Those were the first words that came to mind along with a lot of “thank-yous.”
She also held a cookout at the reunion to show her appreciation and the first responders met her son, Alex, again, this time perfectly healthy.
On Aug. 1, Ditto’s son, Alex, wandered into the pool at their home on East Elm Street. He was not breathing when he was pulled out. Ditto called 911 and began CPR until Deputy Justin Kirk arrived five minutes later, Sheriff Sam Crish said.
Alex still was not breathing.
Kirk continued CPR and Alex began spitting up. Deputy Don Geiger arrived to help.
Kirk then heard the ambulance and ran Alex to the paramedics and they rushed him to Lima Memorial Health System, Crish said.
The total time, less than 10 minutes from the 911 call, Ditto said.
Doctors at LMH worked on the child and sent him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus by helicopter where he was placed on a ventilator, Ditto said.
After three anxious days of waiting, doctors felt he was strong enough to breath on his own. The big concern was brain damage, Ditto said.
Doctors took out the ventilator and a short time later Alex responded in a remarkable way, Ditto said.
“As soon as he woke up he looked right at his dad and said, ‘Dad.’ He was laughing and smiling,” Ditto said.
Doctors planned a battery of neurological test but canceled those after watching Alex.
The following day, Alex returned home to Lima, Ditto said.
“You wouldn’t be able to tell anything happened. He’s right back to normal,” Ditto said.
Crish was proud of his deputies and everyone involved starting with the 911 operators all the way to the hospital staff.
“It was great work from everyone. Great teamwork,” Crish said.
The lifesaving effort came just days after sheriff deputies had to deal with the death of a child who drowned in a pond at a birthday party. Crish said that was hard on everyone involved and everyone at his agency who has children.
“When you’re dealing with children, you have emotions. It’s a tough thing to do,” Crish said.
Saving a life, especially the life of a child, is one of those achievements in a career the deputies will never forget, Crish said.
“It’s a feeling that you really cannot describe. People employed in this type of possession, that’s why we do the things we do. It’s to help people and to save lives,” Crish said.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.