Fla. nurse rescues boy from drowning

Erica Bartlett was at the Holiday Inn Resort in Panama City Beach when she noticed a little boy floating on his back in the pool

By Jennie McKeon
Northwest Florida Daily News

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — Erica Bartlett was looking forward to some rest and relaxation when she planned a weekend trip to the Holiday Inn Resort in Panama City Beach with her husband and two kids.

Saturday afternoon the Niceville mom was poolside enjoying the nice weather while her husband, Brett, was watching the kids, 3-year-old Rustin and 6-year-old Brecken.

"I was trying to get a tan, but my son was telling me 'get up, Mommy,' and made me sit up," Erica recalled Monday afternoon.

It wasn't long after that she noticed a little boy, not much older than her own son, floating on his back in the pool. Call it mother's intuition or a nurse's instinct, but Erica went to check on him. She lifted his arm and noticed he was unresponsive.

"It's a mother's worst nightmare," she said. "He had white foam coming out of his mouth. I jumped in the pool to get him out. When I got him on the ground, I started CPR."

Hotel staff called for an ambulance as Erica continued CPR on the little boy. Eventually he started coughing and then screamed for his mother who rushed to his side. Before they left the boy's mother got out of the ambulance to give Erica a hug.

Erica has been a nurse for 11 years and for the past four years she's been at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center where she is the house administrative supervisor. She never worked in pediatrics but had experience as an ER nurse, which she says helped prepare her for that moment.

"I was in complete shock and had high adrenaline," Erica said. "I said to myself, 'I can't believe I'm doing this.'"

The incident lasted all of a couple of minutes. Hotel staff had reviewed security footage and told Erica the boy was in the pool for about 40 seconds before he was unresponsive.

That day Erica was the hero around the resort. Once the boy began breathing there were cheers and claps from bystanders. Someone yelled "God bless you" from the balcony. Even Erica's Army Special Forces husband was impressed.

"He was by my side as it happened," she said. "He told me 'Oh my gosh, I've never seen anything like this.'"

Erica didn't see the boy again, but learned that he was discharged from the hospital later that night.

The incident didn't offer her much in the way of relaxation but it was an amazing story to share. When the family checked out of the resort, Erica was met with high-fives from guests and hotel staff.

"It feels good to know I could help," Erica said. "I don't have to wonder what else could have been done."

Copyright 2018 Northwest Florida Daily News

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