July 23, 2021

The little boy was in the swimming pool, not breathing. Thanks to CPR, first responders and LifeFlight, he is fine.

It should have been a joyous day. It almost turned tragic.

Karsyn Sisk was all smiles when he came back to visit LifeFlight crew members Tim Bell, CCEMT, and pilot J.R. Swinderman.

Brittanie Sisk was having a great day. She had gotten married that morning in a simple ceremony, and along with her new husband, Dustin, had gone to a relative’s house for a family get-together.

But this happy day almost turned tragic.

Brittanie had left the gathering to go to the grocery to pick up a few items, and when she returned, she was shocked to see Dustin performing CPR on her 3-year-old son, Karsyn.

“It all happened so fast. Seconds matter.”

Later, a neighbor shared video footage from a security camera, and what Brittanie saw still rattles her.

“You can see him splashing around for a few minutes in the pool, and then it stopped,” she recalled through tears. The footage shows adults pulling him from the water.

“He was floating. My husband immediately began CPR.”

Little Karsyn had jumped into the pool while she was away at the store.

Brittanie and Dustin took turns performing CPR until the first responders arrived.

“When they got there, they bagged him, and he finally threw up. The ambulance arrived and took him to be air-flighted to Vanderbilt,” she said. “It all happened so fast. Seconds matter.”

It takes mere seconds to lose sight of a child.

Child drownings remain the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years old, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Karsyn was lucky — his parents knew CPR, and EMS and LifeFlight were able to give his story a happy ending. A few weeks later he visited the LifeFlight helipad to thank some of those who helped save his life, and his smile in pictures from that day is a reminder of what was almost lost.

While Karsyn has recovered, the trauma of the experience remains, Brittanie said.

“My kids are my heart,” she said (Karsyn has a 7-year-old brother, Daylen). “It was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. He was in the water for so long. I am so glad he is here. He is just fine, no damage.”

Brittanie said she hopes sharing her story will prompt others to heed these basic water safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Make sure everyone has basic swim skills, such as floating and treading water.
  • Make sure children wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim. Life jackets can be used in and around pools and hot tubs for weaker swimmers.
  • Supervise swimmers closely at all times.
  • Know how to recognize and respond to a swimmer in distress and how to perform CPR.
  • If you own a pool or hot tub, keep children away from the area when they aren’t swimming.
    • Install and maintain barriers such as four-sided fencing.
    • Use locks and alarms for windows and doors.

“I want others to learn from this accident,” she said. “At least one adult should have the job of keeping an eye on the children at all times.

“I am fortunate that both my husband and I knew CPR. The EMTs told us that if my husband hadn’t performed CPR when he did, Karsyn wouldn’t be here today.”

Today Brittanie has turned her focus to researching how to get free CPR instruction to anyone seeking to learn.

“I didn’t know how important it was to know until this accident,” she said. “It’s truly lifesaving if you know how to properly administer.”