PHOENIX — It's every mother's worst nightmare come true ... until, of course, an off-duty nurse steps in to save the day.
Shelby Parker was at a Scottsdale community pool with her 4-year-old son, Ryan, on June 1.
As she chatted with other mothers while watching her son play in the pool with his water wings on, he slipped out of them and to the bottom of the pool all in a blink of an eye.
That's when the off-duty nurse, Amanda Smith, who works in the neonatal intensive care unit at HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center, stepped in and started CPR.
Smith just happened to be at the pool that day to swim.
Parker said it was as if suddenly an "angel appeared and calmly got to work right away on my son."
She said Smith talked her through the situation, explaining what actions she was taking, and doing so without judgment.
Lori Schmidt, Scottsdale Fire Department spokeswoman, said Ryan regained consciousness on the way to the hospital.
Parker said, "It's because of Amanda's instinctive actions that doctors say my son did not suffer any brain injuries, because he never lost blood to his brain."
On Monday, Scottsdale Fire Department and ambulance company AMR-Life Line honored Smith for "her quick and calm response that contributed to saving Ryan that afternoon," Schmidt said.
"This is so nice but so unnecessary," Smith said. "Anyone in the profession would have done the exact same thing I did."
Parker said Smith's help saved her son's life.
"I don't only owe you my life," Parker said to Smith, "I owe you everything — you saved my son's life and you saved my life!"
"I thought I deserved to be interrogated and put in the back of a police car," Parker said, "but that's not how Scottsdale police or fire departments cared for me."
Evan Fisherman, AMR-Life Line Ambulance spokesman said, "CPR buys us time. She (Smith) worked very professionally not only in saving the child's life, but by also educating the mother (Parker) about the chest compressions she was doing."
Smith said despite not having her medical instruments and tools to help her, instincts took over and she knew exactly what she needed to do.
"In that moment I felt so alone," Smith said, "but it was such a well-oiled machine when first responders started showing up,"
Scottsdale Fire Department officials urged parents to use a multilayered approach to prevent drownings.
"Adult supervision is key," Schmidt said. "Eye-to-eye supervision must be kept on kids in the pool at all times."
Touch supervision is recommended for inexperienced swimmers, she said.
Only Coast Guard-approved life jackets and water wings should be used on children learning how to swim, Schmidt said, and parents should place young children in swim lessons.
Smith gave one piece of advice for all parents that could save a child's life before paramedics arrive: "Just start chest compressions and don't stop until paramedics take over."
Schmidt said, "Knowing how to administer mouth-to-mouth CPR when all else fails can be the difference between life and death in a drowning incident."
Parker said she took some "mommy-geared CPR classes" and said she now would be taking a full course.
"It was such a beautiful thing," Parker said, "it felt like the whole city showed up to help rescue my son."