The Bayonet

Tuesday, Jul. 22, 2014

Ranger saves child's life at local pool

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It was the first day of July, after a day at work, Capt. Paul J. Rothlisberger returned home and took his three daughters to the neighborhood pool in Fort Mitchell, Alabama.

It was an "abnormal" time of the day for Rothlisberger to take his children to the pool, but his wife was insistent. When they arrived at the pool, he noticed a larger group of swimmers than normal with ages ranging from 10 to 15. Rothlisberger let his children jump into the pool and proceeded to text his wife.

"There are a lot of kids at the pool," he wrote.

As he put his phone down to watch his daughters, he said he heard a cry for help. "I heard a scream and then a 10-year-old boy pulling a limp body out of the pool of what turned out to be a 4-year-old boy," Rothlisberger said. "I didn't see the kid go into the pool, and I don't think anyone else did, he was lifeless."

Rothlisberger, a company commander with 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, is accustomed to responding to a situation when someone is in need. He quickly assessed the situation and rushed in to action.

"I wish I could say there was a whole lot of thought that went into it, but you kind of see a problem and you get after it," he said. "Our situation was pretty straightforward with what needed to happen, I had to help the child however I could.

"After the boy pulled him from the pool, I grabbed the child and took him over to a nearby table. I started to do chest compressions, I could not tell you how many I did but it was for an extended period of time."

In the process of tending to the young child, Rothlisberger handed his cell phone to the oldest child at the pool and had him speak to emergency services.

"I told him to tell 911 who was on the phone; give them the situation and where our current location is," he said.

Still no signs of life, the situation worsen as the child's eyes were rolled into the back on his head. The captain went to chest compressions, and finally a break.

"I heard a gurgle sound from and I knew we started to make progress," Rothlisberger said. "I turned him over onto his side and he vomited."

But issues still remained; Rothlisberger turned him over onto his back and resumed the compressions. Finally, the child vomited again, followed by a breath and a scream.

"I felt a little relief, but I knew we still needed the emergency services," he said. "I checked the phone to provide an update and confirmed our current location."

Rothlisberger repositioned the boy to sit-up.

A few minutes later, volunteers from the Fort Mitchell Fire Department arrived on scene, followed by emergency medical technicians, who took the child to the Columbus Regional Medical Center.

The child was treated and later released and has recovered from the incident, Rothlisberger said.

"I'm just glad we were there at that time and were able to help out," he said. "The fact I was able to help out was a result of everything I learned in the Army for basic medical care. I would have felt a lot worse if I saw the situation and would not have been able to help out."

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