Boy Survives Hot Tub Drain Entrapment
abc News - Good Morning America
July 27, 2006
July 5, 2006 — Monique Chernin of West Palm Beach, Fla., was showing her older son, Derek, 11, how to clean the pool while her younger son, Brenden, 7, played in the hot tub nearby.
Then she realized she didn't hear Brenden's splashing anymore. She looked in the hot tub and saw him lying motionless at the bottom.
"I thought his bathing suit was stuck inside the suction, and I jumped in and pulled his suit off and he was still stuck," Chernin said. "I tried twice to pull him off and noticed that he was attached to the drain."
Brenden's chest was pinned to the drain. Entrapment can occur when the supercharged suction from insufficiently covered drains in hot tubs or pools pins a bather underwater. The pressure is so intense that even strong swimmers can't escape and would-be rescuers can't free them.
Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental injury-related death among children ages one to 14, and the leading cause of accidental injury-related death among children ages one to four.
Brenden did not become a statistic, thanks to his quick-acting mother and brother and a 911 operator.
"I couldn't have done it without her and Derek," Chernin said. "It was a team effort. She gets lots of thanks and praise. … She helped me focus."
As Chernin struggled to pull Brenden out of the hot tub, she told Derek to shut off the pool pump and call 911.
The pool pump wasn't enough, though. They also had to turn off the hot tub pump, and Derek didn't know where it was. Chernin shut off the hot tub pump, and then pulled out Brenden, who wasn't breathing.
The 911 operator talked Chernin through administering CPR. She performed chest compressions and tried to resuscitate him until the paramedics arrived five minutes later. Brenden eventually achieved shallow breathing.
Brenden was then taken to the hospital, where he stayed for 11 days. At first, doctors were worried he would have brain damage, but he appears to be doing fine.
"He's doing great," Chernin said. "Every day is a better day."
The Chernin family bought a new cover for its hot tub drain called a "vortex cover."
"It is not as flat as the outdated covers," Chernin said. "These are up to code — the new covers that everyone needs to be aware of."
David Chernin, Brenden's father, said that his son's near-death experience had given him a whole new perspective on life.
"It made me realize that work is important but my children and my family are much more important, and so I'm going to be really trying to focus on spending a lot more time with them and give them my energy and my time as opposed to being at work so often," he said.
ABC News' Robin Roberts reported this story for "Good Morning America."