Grand Rapids girls’ quick thinking saved five-year-old girl from drowning

Three Grand Rapids residents who received Red Cross rescuer awards Nov. 2 for plucking a five-year-old girl from the Saskatchewan River may not have had any previous lifesaving experience but they did everything right, a Red Cross water safety expert says.

Eden Walker, 10, Jaylynn Chartier, 8, and Phoenix Chartier, 9, were near the river in July when they saw the younger girl floating facedown in the water. One went to find some adults to help, another stayed on the riverbank and the third went into the water and pulled the five-year-old to shore. Once that was accomplished, Phoenix Chartier began performing CPR on the girl they had rescued until adults arrived to help.

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”[The adults] took the younger girl to the nursing station and she was successfully resuscitated,” said Chris Brown, the Red Cross’s swimming and water safety representative for Manitoba, Northern Ontario and Nunavut.

“They showed very good judgment in the way that they responded,” said Brown. “They were very smart in that one of them did stay onshore nearby in case they needed extra help or in case something went wrong. One of them went and found adults right away. The other thing that’s really remarkable is, once they got the smaller girl back to shore, they performed CPR on the riverbank while they waited for the adults and apparently Phoenix, the girl who was doing CPR, said she learned it from watching a TV show.”

Rescuer awards are intended for non-professionals or for off-duty first responders who go out of their way to save a life, said Brown.

“We also specifically look to recognize children who provided help without training so that’s where this scenario fit perfectly into our awards program,” Brown said. “We certainly congratulate them on their quick thinking and good judgment and we’re glad that there was a positive outcome.”

In addition to recognizing the three girls’ heroism, Brown said this incident shows how important it is to educate kids about the dangers of water and to learn to swim and to administer first aid.

“We would absolutely encourage everyone to take some form of first aid or CPR training [and] … with the bodies of water that we have, to take some sort of swimming instruction and water safety education,” Brown said.

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