When Dawn Marengo got home from work, she was folding laundry in her room while listening to her kids play when she noticed that things got a bit too quiet. As a mother of three, Dawn knew this wasn't a good sign, so she immediately walked out her room to assess the situation. This Florida mom discovered every parent's worst nightmare when she saw that her sliding glass back door was open and immediately ran out looking for her 19-month-old son, Damien.
"I ran and saw him floating in the pool. He wasn't moving," Dawn told POPSUGAR. "I pulled him from the pool and he was limp and lifeless. He was cold to the touch and his lips were so blue. A blue I can't describe."
Although Dawn has taken CPR classes multiple times, in this moment she was hit with sheer panic that clouded her previous training. "My first instinct was to flip him over and smack his back. I knew he wasn't choking, but I was trying to make my brain function and I knew he needed to have a clear airway," she said. "I flipped him onto his back and tilted his head. It was like someone was telling me he needed to breathe."
After pinching his nose and breathing into his mouth, Damien began to cough and vomit water. When paramedics arrived, they airlifted the limp toddler to Arnold Palmer Hospital For Children. "It all happened very quickly and I just remember I couldn't stop crying or think," she said. "I was running on pure adrenaline and muscle memory."
Being grateful that she was able to save her son's life isn't enough for Dawn, so she's sharing her story in hopes that parents realize that taking a CPR class just once isn't enough. "There's a difference between learning CPR and actually using it. I think the more you practice it the easier it is to remember," Dawn said. "I've taken about four CPR classes in my life and in that moment, your mind goes blank; you remember some, but not all."
Dawn originally posted her story on the TaTa Tuesday Ladies Facebook page pleading with parents to take her experience seriously and consider refreshing their training. "It CAN happen to you! So PLEASE take some CPR courses!! You never know if or when you'll need it but it WILL save a life!" she wrote.
Since then, Dawn has implemented new safety measures including adding a pad lock to the back door as well as a pool gate, and is considering adding CPR posters around the house and by the pool. "The idea is that when your brain turns to mush (which it does) you have a reminder of what to do," she said.