October 26, 2017
By Jonathan Wright
A fishing guide in northern California and his client for the day have rescued a drowning baby in the Sacramento River. When the men pulled the baby girl from the water it wasn't breathing, but it was successfully resuscitated. The child's mother was helped out of the river as well by another guide working nearby.
On Friday, October 20, guide Chris King and his client David Meister were fishing, and came across a small body floating in the water. Apparently, the baby's mother had attempted to wade across the large river with the child. As reported in the Redding Record Searchlight, "The mother, 37-year-old Kathryn Marie Thompson of Redding, later told police she knew it was dangerous to cross the river but she was listening to voices in her head, according to the Redding Police Department. The woman now faces a charge of attempted murder."
King recounts the experience, which happened to be on Meister's birthday. ""We didn't know what it was at first. Then I said, it's a person. I thought it was a wader that got swept into the river. When I saw the child things got real scary. She was lifeless when I brought her in the boat. I handed her to Dave and told him to put her on her knee and pat her on the back. She started to spit and sputter and finally cry. We stripped her down and wrapped her in out dry jackets and I rowed like hell to meet the ambulances. My guide buddy Darrin Deel took the woman in his boat."
The child is expected to make a full recovery.
King and Deel are guides in the area, and are trained in both medical and rescue techniques as a matter of professional certification. Executing CPR processes for infants has some subtle, but important, differences from that of adults owing to small lungs and soft bone structures. King and Meister's quick thinking in putting the child in an inverted position to help clear any water from her lungs before attempting CPR was a crucial decision in the outcome.
All anglers -- whether professional guides or not -- should be versed in First Aid and CPR, as every outdoor sporting pursuit carries some degree of risk that need to be responsibly prepared for. Fly fishing in particular presents the unique dangers associated with wading in fast water, hazards from falls on uneven surfaces, exposure to the elements, and encounters with potentially unfriendly animals.
Knowing how to deal with an emergency can not only save your own life, but someone else's as well. The American Red Cross offers training at a minimal cost to the public, and the knowledge they provide is something that should be considered part of your toolkit when venturing onto the water.