June 11, 2010
After telling this eye-witness account to countless people in person, from here to there and everywhere, I have relived it so many times. There have been rallies and community organized speeches and even senior level meetings at the Washington headquarters of the great American Red Cross; but, I have never actually written it all down before. Thanks for the invitation to get it all off my chest. I watched an ordinary man in a crisis situation and he used common sense and immediate, decisive action to save his daughter's life. The man is Patrick "Paddy" Boyle, a native of Sea Girt, N.J., and the actions were CPR and The Heimlich Maneuver. His daughter's name is Chase Christian Boyle and the lesson I hope to share this incredible story of how an emergency situation led to the creation of one of the greatest grass roots non profits in history - on that has been a literal juggernaut with an incredible woman at the helm. With summer here and in full swing, millions of Americans are getting ready to embark on summer fun - like swimming all day and BBQ-ing all night. For this reason it is important to share this story NOW. I can tell your audience this incredible story because my brain recorded every single second of the drama as it unfolded before me. As a photographer, in my head I shot every frame from every angle on every person present: two parents, two grandparents, two siblings, two friends and a babysitter. The only view from which I could not see was that of the accident victim, a beautiful two-year old named Chase. She almost lost her life in the summer of 2005; but, because of her father Patrick's education in lifesaving skills, Chase is not only here today on Planet Earth, but she is thriving! In fact, she just danced in her recital on stage at the historic Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, N.J. and I was thrilled to be in the balcony cheering her on. My name is Victoria McDougal and I was the family friend that just stopped by, just to say "hi" one special Sunday morning; but it quickly turned into much more than that. It was a beautiful, crystal-clear day. My one-year-old daughter Tess and I had little on our minds that morning other than church, which for us meant hitting the big old Baptist auditorium in the historic town of Ocean Grove, N.J. I love that century-old church in the summer, with 1000 people in congregation just block off the oceanfront and surfers working the waves in the distance, it just feels magical. Little did I know as we wrapped up the service, I would be on my knees in prayer yet again, in less than one hour's ime. I knew it was going to be a great afternoon. You see, my friend, Farley Boyle and her husband Patrick had just brought their third baby girl home from a NYC hospital that very morning and Tess and I were to be their first visitors! When we got there, everything was perfect. Idyllic, really. Kim Batenic, a gal from Texas who was serving as the family's babysitter at the time, was sweeping up the kitchen after having just served lunch to Mackenzie, age 4 and Chase, age 2. Bill and Sue Snow (Farley's parents) were up from sunny South Florida to meet their newest granddaughter, the two-day-old Abby. I arrived at 655 Little Silver Point Road (in Little Silver, N.J.) full of cheer and arms full of flowers(Farley's favorite - fresh cut daises.) I noticed proud papa Patrick (who was turning 40 later that week) out on the boat tied to their dock, just 150 feet from the back porch's sliding doors. He looked like a man with a plan; seemed to be getting the boat ready for a pleasant day trip with Mackenzie and Chase, presumably to give Mommy some quiet time with Abby. The girls were up on the boat by now but unfortunately, not yet into their life vests. After all, they hadn't left the dock yet. Plus, Mack could swim like a fish and Chase, well, she was still way too small to pull herself up over the gunnels and fall in. Or so Patrick and Grandpa Bill may have thought. Accidents happen; this is life. It is how we act and react that makes all the difference. I fastened Tess into a high chair to watch Baby Einstein and then bounded up the circular staircase to visit my girlfriend Farley and her newborn. I didn't get far. I was met midway by a woman who had just given birth and was flying down the stairs at 100 miles an hour. Something was terribly wrong on her dock and she had seen it from her bedroom window. In the time it took for me to leave the kitchen and get to the stairs, the unthinkable had occurred. Imagine Farley nursing her newborn at the window of her 2nd floor bedroom as she saw her husband, a tri-athlete, a surfer, a fisherman, a true waterman in every sense of the word now diving with purpose into the Shrewsbury River. Where was Mackenzie? She knew how to swim, Farley was thinking; but Chase, where was little Chase? Patrick would soon found out. It was our first miracle that Mackenzie, who was only four years old at the time, pointed out and announced that Chase was not only in the water but she was not swimming. I still shudder to think what would have happened if little Mack would have frozen with the information she had about her playful little sister's whereabouts. Chase had simply been trying to catch tiny fish with her net and she had tipped over and in, slipping silently between the floating dock and the boat (without a splash or a sound). Mackenzie pointed to the exact spot in the dark water and Chase was pulled out. By then, we were all down there on the dock watching in horror as Chase's lifeless body lay perfectly still. But Patrick stayed cool. He began the most visually violent round of CPR, Chest Compressions, Back Blows and Heimlich maneuvers that I have ever seen. And after growing up in Virginia Beach and working for the Ocean Rescue Service AND the Virginia Beach Patrol, I had seen rescues. But nothing like this. Even though Chase was unconscious and non-responsive, Patrick never swayed in his belief that he would bring her back. He kept repeating out loud to his middle child, Chase, breathe for Daddy. Come on, you gotta breathe for Daddy. 911 had been called, and now, it was Patrick's full responsibility to get the water out and get the oxygen into his baby girl. The truth is - you only have about five minutes from the moment an accident occurs before probable brain damage. So, no matter who you are and what your qualifications or certifications may or may not be, if YOU are the first person on the scene of a drowning or choking accident, YOU have to act. Doing something is better than nothing. Patrick was now imploring every technique in the book. In those moments, we couldn't believe we were there. How could this happen to US? We all grew up on the water. We all were sensitive to the dangers. We are extremely conscientious parents, grandparents and friends. Was this even real? Were we about to lose Chase? This stunning child, with long ringlets and big brown eyes, was always so full of life whenever you would see her. Now, she was now losing her life fast, her skin was gray and her lips were a weird mix of purple and blue. Mackenzie was clutching my body watching in terror, alternating between begging the universe to save Chase and burying her face into me and sobbing. As for myself, I steadfastly envisioned the over-1000 person crowd I had been surrounded with earlier that morning in church and I was using sheer will to summon their help in prayer. I begged. I pleaded. I started bargaining with God. For a moment, it seemed a little too quiet, a little too still, save Patrick's intense work on the child. I can literally feel seconds and minutes and I knew they were adding up to no good. Chase's grandfather looked completely broken. Bill Snow, "Poppy", as the girls called him, is a ridiculously strong man, father and grandfather that had once assisted NASA on some level launching rocket ships into space - and now he was rendered helpless. Sue, "Grandma Mimi" Snow and Kim the babysitter were navigating the Little Silver, N.J. EMS Squad to the house and then, after what seemed like an eternity but in truth was only a few minutes, we all received the gift of watching the miracle of CPR and The Heimlich Maneuver work. Chase's eyes seemed to come alive again as they locked with her Mother's. Then she began to vomit profusely and the words, "mmmmmmoooooooooommmmmmmmm" came hurling from her mouth. Patrick's heroic lifesaving efforts had worked and the water that had been trapped in her little lungs started to make its way out. The color began to return and we thought "OK, Chase is back on the planet, we can deal with whatever comes; but we also knew there was so much work still to do. With the EMS team now stationed now in the driveway, Farley and Patrick began what seemed like a 5 mile journey to the front of the house with Chase on their backs, alternating her body onto its left side (this is what you should do in this situation, as it helps get the water out). There is evidently a tremendous chance for children to continue to drown internally above ground even after they are rescue and that is why it is so important to know every phase of how to save a life. Once Chase was in the ambulance on her way with her Mother and Father to Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, N.J. they began to check her short term memory to access the situation in regards to possible brain damage. Her mom, the quickest of thinkers and probably the very best mother I know, knew just what to ask Chase in order to investigate. Chase and Mackenzie had just been given two kitty cats of their very own care to care for in celebration of Abby's arrival. It was important for them to understand that Mommy had a new baby to care for in Abby, and the older girls were now going to be mommies too! Farley knew that if Chase could recall her new baby's name, they would be in business. Farley calmly asked her daughter, "Honey, Mommy has a new baby and her baby's name is Abby; can you tell us the name of YOUR new baby?" Chase was sobbing as she cried out. "Sebastian". Bingo. The Little Mermaid was her favorite film at the time and Sebastian was the name of the crab that her new kitty-cat was named for. After five days in ICU, we left Monmouth Medical Center with a perfectly healthy child. In the time that we were there, others were not so fortunate. Upon returning back to normal life, Chase's mom Farley realized quickly as she shared her harrowing ordeal with friends that the majority of our population does not make the commitment towards getting educated in CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver due to either a lack of time, resourcefulness or money. The entire education of infant and child CPR, in particular, seemed harrowing to people and it was shocking how many wonderful parents and caregivers, had simply not been exposed to it. Farley was so grateful for her second chance at life with Chase that she wanted to give back to our community immediately. And give back she did. The result was a grass-root non-profit aptly named “Chase for Life”. Chase stands for CPR, Health Awareness and Safety Education and is also the name of our little miracle that summer day. In just five years time, Farley has taken this mission to educate everyone with a hand on a child in the very basics of lifesaving skills to task by creating an animated instructional short that teaches infant and child CPR and Choking Maneuvers in 18 minutes flat for free. With healthy, thriving daughters to inspire her daily, the mission was simple. Empower everyone with a hand on a child with the basic lifesaving skills needed to sustain a life until help arrives. With nods of support from the collective and inspiration ranging from iconic 1970’s pop culture like John Travolta’s Stayin’ Alive’ and the famed educational series, “Schoolhouse Rocks”, Farley hatched a plan. In under four-years time, she founded Chase for Life - which stands for CPR, Health, Awareness and Safety Education. Farley began this charitable organization from the ground up and on the strength of her relationships, the power of her contacts and the impact of great creative ideas, she has worked endlessly to produce, promote and distribute CFL’s original 18-minute animated short “How to Save a Life”, starring the lovable and iconic Paddy the Penguin. Through the funding of great companies like Aetna, Wachovia and Johnson & Johnson and the dedication of the The American Red Cross, Faley, CFL & Paddy will demystify infant/child CPR and Choking Maneuvers for the global community with bi-lingual resources like films, posters, pockets guides and coloring books - with more to come. With nearly two decades of modeling experience it was only natural for Farley to take this out-dated, anxiety causing-education and give it a much-needed modernized facelift. She has been featured on The Today Show, ABC, CBS, FOX, and appears on the Discovery Health Network's special series "Runway Moms.” Farley recently adds published author to her resume with the upcoming “Chicken Soup for Soul: Power Moms”, which his bookstores last spring. We can’t wait to see what she will accomplish with her do-it-yourself ethos that reminds us all of the very best part of The American Spirit. After all this hard work, with the loyal support of a loving committee (all MOMS with over 100 children under the age of 10 between us), we can finally rest a bit. Just this month, Farley signed a contract with the American Red Cross as they have just adopted CFL's bi-lingual CPR teaching resources and they are taking Chase for Life global. For more information, please log onto our website at www.chaseforlife.org. It has been an incredible journey and I am so glad to have the chance to share my story with you. Chase for Life is worthy of your time and attention and I am so happy to have this chance to share Patrick's lifesaving story and Farley's philanthropic mission with you today. Happy Summer 2010 to everyone! Sincerely, Victoria McDougal 908.902.5252 email@example.com
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...every way imaginable.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every month
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
MY ROLE:Board Member & Many different aspects.