Off-duty rescue workers save unresponsive 3-year-old

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PLYMOUTH, Wis. (WBAY) -- A holiday of camping and swimming went from fun to frightening, when a young girl nearly drowned in a Plymouth pool on Monday.

That’s when two off-duty rescue workers jumped into action to save the girl’s life.

“I’ve been a CPR instructor for 13 years, and I’ve never had to actually perform CPR on a person, much less a [3]-year-old,” says Andrea Hodgden, a CPR instructor. When an emergency arose, she and Stephanie Ditter sprang into action.

“We were just laying by the pool when I saw a mom, or a woman, pull a lifeless child out of the pool,” Hodgden remembers. “I reached over and grabbed my CPR mask and I ran around the pool. When I got to the little girl she was blue.”

The 3-year-old didn’t have a pulse and wasn’t breathing. Her mother started performing CPR, but Hodgden and Ditter quickly took over. The pair began performing chest compressions and giving breaths.

“We had to go several cycles, a lot of water was coming out and we had to keep clearing her airway,” Hodgden says. “She was ... every single time I gave a compression there was water coming out.”

Eventually the girl came to, and was breathing and able to speak. Paramedics took over as a precaution, but the girl was likely saved because of the pair’s quick response.

“I think it's just kind of hitting us today,” Hodgden says.

“I think it's hitting our whole group, what we saw, the feelings of the family. It could have been any one of our kids,” says Stephanie Ditter, a registered nurse who assisted Hodgden in the rescue.

Ditter and Hodgden believe providence brought them to the pool yesterday.

“I think God had us planned to come here this weekend, because we weren’t supposed to be at this campground. Circumstances happened and we ended up here,” Ditter says. “We weren't even supposed to be at that pool at that time, we were supposed to be at a different one. There's a reason our group was sitting at this pool.”

The pair says this event is an important lesson in always being prepared, even when you’re off duty.

“You know, CPR does save lives,” Ditter says. “If we could just stress that enough. To get that certification is very helpful.”