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A close call gave Farley Boyle a mission to help save children

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

By BETSY QUERNA
HERALD NEWS

More than 10,000 American children die every year in accidents. On an August day in 2005, Farley Boyle's 2-year-old daughter Chase almost became one of them.

Now Farley is working to change those statistics, using a video she produced to push parents to learn CPR and hospitals to teach it to them.

Chase was getting ready for a fishing trip with her dad, big sister and grandfather on the dock at the Boyles' shore home in Little Silver, in Monmouth County. Patrick, her father, put her into the boat to keep her out of harm's way, he thought, while he tied on an anchor.

Instead, the toddler climbed over the side, likely thinking she'd lower herself onto the dock. She fell into the water, silently, without a splash.

Mackenzie, Farley's oldest daughter, who was then 4 years old, was the only one to see her sister slip into the black water. After about a minute, when Chase didn't emerge, she began yelling to her dad that Chase was in the water and she wasn't coming up.

Patrick and his father-in-law quickly found the 2-year old and pulled her out. "She was solidly filled with water," Farley recalls. "She was not on this planet with us."

Patrick, who had taken a CPR class with his wife before the birth of their first child, knew how to expel the water from Chase's lungs and administer CPR. The ambulances got there quickly, but he saved her life.

The experience profoundly changed the family. Farley had made her living as a fashion model, in ads for products like Lee jeans, L'Oreal cosmetics and Absolut vodka. In an instant her mission became to teach parents and caregivers how to save their children's lives.

She began trying to educate people, through an organization she started called CHASE for Life. She said she was amazed that more people did not know how to do something so simple. "If you can push on the chest above the heart and breathe, you can do it," she says. "You don't have to use big words."

Most people currently learn CPR by getting certified in classes that take hours if not weeks. But especially trying to save children, just knowing the basics is sometimes enough. With children, Farley says, "you have an 80 percent success rate if you only remember 20 percent of the maneuver."

Farley realized that you didn't need hours to teach the basics. In fact, she found she could teach people with an 18-minute animated instructional video called "How to Save a Life."

She created the video and did fundraising to finance its cost. She got a boost when the Bee Gees, who wrote the song "Stayin' Alive," gave her the rights to use it in the video for five years without compensation.

In the video, Paddy the Penguin, a hip bird who lives in a zoo, dresses like John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever" and gets down to "Stayin' Alive," teaches people to do CPR. He uses catchy lyrics and rhymes to teach CPR and how to save choking victims. "Tilt the head and lift the chin/Now you're ready to begin," chants a chorus of zoo animals during one song.

The video is now shown to parents at 14 New Jersey hospitals before they leave with their newborns, said Farley. Her goal is that every parent -- in the state and country -- will see the video or receive some type of free CPR instruction before leaving the hospital.

She is now working to get the video more widely distributed. She's talking with corporations and negotiating with hospitals, trying to get enough eyes on her video to lower the number of children who die each year.

"We could change the statistics," she says. "We're putting it out there."

Reach Betsy Querna at 973-569-7169 or querna@northjersey.com

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How to save a child from choking

How to help a conscious choking child (ages 1-8)

1) Ask the child, "Are you choking?" If the child nods, tell him you are going to help.

2) Kneel or stand behind the child and wrap your arms around his midsection. Make a fist with one hand and place your thumb slightly above his belly button. Grasp your fist with your other hand and give quick upward thrusts into his stomach.

3) Continue thrusting until the object is forced out and the child can breathe, cough or cry.

4) If the child becomes unconscious, perform CPR.

-- From CHASE for Life

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