Splish, splash and safe!
Asbury Park Press
As a first-time mother-to-be, Farley Snow Boyle wanted to be as prepared for parenthood as possible. So when her obstetrician included information on an optional infant CPR class among all the paperwork, Boyle quickly signed up herself and her husband, Patrick, for the class.
Four years later, that class would save a life.
It was a bright, sunny day -- Aug. 28, 2005, to be exact -- and Farley Boyle had just arrived home from the hospital with the couple's newest addition, a baby girl named Abigail.
To give the new mother a little rest, Patrick Boyle and his father-in-law William Snow took the Boyle's other two girls, the then-4-year-old Mackenzie and 2-year-old Chase, out to do a little fishing.
After a trip to a bait-and-tackle shop, the group set out for the family's dock and boat behind their home on Little Silver Point Road in Little Silver for a fun day on the Shrewsbury River. As the adults were putting the new tackle in the boxes and tying a new anchor line to the boat, Mackenzie played with her new net on the dock. With Chase getting into the tackle box, her grandfather decided to put her in the boat, where, Boyle says, she normally could be counted on to play with the radio and pretend to drive.
Moments later, though, Chase was no longer in the boat. The Boyles believe that Chase probably saw her sister playing with the net and wanted to join her on the dock. Instead, the toddler slid silently in the water between the boat and the dock.
What is known, though, is that Mackenzie told her father that Chase was in the water and she wasn't swimming.
The toddler, who the family believes was submerged for 90 seconds, was plucked from the water and Patrick Boyle immediately began using the Heimlich and infant CPR techniques he learned in class to revive his daughter. Farley Boyle called 911.
"I was looking at a child who was no longer on the planet," Farley Boyle recalls. " "Chase, breathe for Daddy!' " (Patric Boyle) was screaming. Her eyes were lifeless saucers.
"After three rounds of CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, she came back. The EMTs arrived on the scene within three minutes, and they took over."
After three days of observation at an area hospital, Chase was back in her Little Silver home, as active and energetic as ever.
As she watches her middle child playing, Boyle realizes how close the family had been to losing their little girl.
"I knew I had to do something," Boyle says. "If we hadn't taken that optional class, Chase wouldn't be here."
Boyle soon became a mother on a mission: to educate new parents about the need to become familiar with CPR.
Days after Chase's accident, the Boyles hosted a "clinic" in their home, with a local EMS team providing a crash course to family, friends and neighbors on how to save a life until help arrives.
In the weeks that followed, Boyle went on to found C.H.A.S.E for Life, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting infant/child "CPR Heimlich Awareness Safety Education."
"What parent wouldn't want to be armed with this knowledge, when it could mean the difference between the life and death of a child?" Boyle asks.
Beginning its second year, the organization has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in an effort to provide free resources, including workshops and instructional videos, to doctors' offices, schools and hospitals for educating parents and child-care providers in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Boyle, a professional model who has appeared on numerous magazine covers, has used her connections to drum up coverage and support for the nonprofit organization.
"I want parents to realize how important it is to know CPR," she says, "and I want that message to go out not only in this area but across the United States and the world."
In addition to discussions and demonstrations and an interactive Web site (www.chaseforlife.org), the organization also provides an 18-minute animated short using a penguin and his sidekick to inform and instruct viewers.
"Paddy the Penguin, named after my husband, is responsible for educating and empowering anyone who views the video with these priceless, basic life-saving techniques," Boyle explains. "The story board takes place in a zoo and shows accidents taking place in daily life that can result in having to potentially use CPR or the Heimlich."
Boyle says the video was inspired by "Schoolhouse Rock," a series of animated short feature films that includes songs about schoolhouse topics that Boyle grew up watching.
"There's repetition, buzz words and graphics to reiterate what has to be done," Boyle says. "We want parents to understand that it's not hard to do . . . and those simple compressions can be the difference between life and death."
Boyle quickly relates the drowning-related statistics: Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional-injury-related deaths in children under the age of 14; brain damage most likely will occur in a child due to loss of oxygen in only six to 10 minutes.
If you remember only 20 percent of infant/child CPR and Heimlich, and administer that to a child in crisis, you have an 80 percent chance of saving the child's life, she adds.
"Knowledge is power," Boyle says, "and I want every parent to have that knowledge."
To that end, she is working toward the goal of having the instructional video available to all new parents to watch before mother and baby are discharged from the hospital.
"Before I was discharged from the hospital, I had to watch a video on shaken baby syndrome," Boyle says. "Shouldn't I also have the option to watch a video on what to do if my infant stops breathing or is choking?"