UPPER DUBLIN >> A 7-year-old Ambler girl who almost drowned Aug. 2 at a summer camp is home and on the mend, her mother, Rebecca McDonald said Aug. 8.
“This is a story about everybody doing their job 100 percent,” McDonald said. “Because everybody did their job, we’re all OK.”
Morgan McDonald, a rising second-grader at Shady Grove Elementary School, was attending Camp Mercy, a day camp being run by Our Lady of Mercy School, which was using the pool at Temple Ambler University around 10:40 a.m., when the incident occurred, her mother said.
Morgan had just passed the swim test that morning and was playing in the 4.5-foot part of the pool when “she remembers thinking of going to the bottom of the pool,” McDonald said.
“She either hit her face or got disoriented” and didn’t surface, and that’s when Rebecca Coutts, a camp counselor who was in the pool with the kids, saved her, McDonald said.
Coutts, 23, a recent graduate of St. Joseph’s University with a degree in elementary education, recalled Aug. 8 that she was in the pool with the kids in the shallow end when she heard Morgan’s cousin, Jack, calling Morgan’s name, saw her at the bottom of the pool “and something told me to go and grab her,” she said.
“I grabbed her by the arm and pulled her out,” Coutts said. “She was non-responsive and wasn’t breathing, so I started compression and CPR, and after what I was told was 16 minutes, she was breathing on her own.
“I had just been trained in CPR in order to become a substitute at Upper Moreland,” said Coutts, who is still looking for a teaching job. “My mother is a nurse and had been after me to get certified for the last four years. I just did, and thank God, I did.
“I thought I would never use it,” she said. “Now I think every single person should be CPR certified.”
Ambler Ambulance arrived at the pool and took over and a helicopter was summoned, which landed on the soccer field at Temple — police and the Fort Washington Fire Company had established a landing zone — and she was airlifted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was treated and released after five days, McDonald said.
“I thank Rebecca for her quick action; it was amazing,” she said.
McDonald also praised Brian Pavlovic, the camp director, who stayed with Morgan the whole time and talked to McDonald while she was on her way to get to the camp. Both Coutts and Pavlovic visited Morgan in the hospital, she said.
“My dog got sick, so I was home cleaning up,” said McDonald, noting she had an appointment and would have left before getting the call. “I’ll never yell at the dog for throwing up again. That made a difference that day.”
Her daughter does have a sensory processing disorder, but she did not have a seizure, as some have speculated on Facebook, she said.
She did lose her two front teeth somewhere along the line, so she may have hit her mouth at the bottom of the pool and loosened them, McDonald said.
She did not think Morgan would be afraid to go in the water again, “but she will be wearing a vest for a little while,” she said.
At CHOP, Morgan was on a ventilator for 2½ days and another day with breathing support, but she is “on the mend,” with just “a bit of a cough and some pneumonia,” and being treated with antibiotics, she said.
“Doing CPR right away saved her,” McDonald said. “It’s just incredible. I credit Rebecca for her quick action. I just want to thank everybody for everything they did that day.”