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The Hub
"Daughterís near drowning prompts founding of nonprofit"

By Layli Whyte

LITTLE SILVER -- Chase climbs up on her motherís lap, and her mother is reminded of what could have been. Chase Boyle, 2, lives with her parents, Farley and Patrick, and her sisters Mackenzie, 4, and Abigail, 41/2 months, on Little Silver Point Road on the banks of the Shrewsbury River, where she nearly drowned last August. Farley Snow Boyle had returned home with Abigail after just giving birth the day before the accident occurred. "My father and my husband decided to take the girls out of the house," she said, "so that I could get some sleep. They went fishing, and went down to the bait and tackle shop to load up. It was supposed to be a little adventure for the girls." As Mackenzie was trying to catch jellyfish with her new net, Chase was getting into the tackle. Afraid she was going to hurt herself, Farleyís father put Chase in the boat, where normally she would have kept herself occupied safely. "I donít know if Mackenzie saw Chase fall into the water, or if it was just something she saw out of the corner of her eye," said Farley, "but if she hadnít pointed at the 2-foot space between the boat and the dock, they probably wouldnít have looked there for her."

Patrick immediately administered the Heimlich maneuver and then began CPR on Chase. "If you perform CPR when the lungs are full of water," explained Farley, "the person tends to aspirate. Then you have vomit and water." She explained that itís important to perform the Heimlich to expel the water from the childís lungs before performing CPR. Farley told her mother to call 911 and by the time the Emergency Medical Services team arrived, Patrick had expelled 80 percent of the water from Chaseís lungs. Chase was going to be fine. She had no brain damage because of the quick thinking of both her sister, father and mother.

"I saw my whole life flash before my eyes as I was looking at my blue, catatonic daughter," said Farley. "I thought about how people can even survive after losing a child. ...But she was OK. She was spared. Iím doing what Iím doing." What Farley has done is start Chase for Life, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing education and awareness to communities about child safety and CPR. Within two weeks of the accident, Farley had 30 friends and neighbors to her home for a workshop and with the help of local EMS workers, taught child and infant CPR and Heimlich, so that the outcome of Chaseís story would be a more common one.

"I want to make education free and available," she said. Farley is currently pushing for legislation to make it mandatory for new mothers to take a short, hands-on CPR and Heimlich class before they leave the hospital with their new babies. She also wants to make this education available not only to parents, but to baby-sitting and au pair agencies, grandparents and siblings. "Siblings are more likely to be standing close to a child who is choking on a toy or something," she said. "The most common causes of death among infants and children are choking and drowning. Drowning happens all year round, not just in the summer. Seventy-five percent of drownings of children and infants occur at home, in less than an inch and a half of water."

If a person retains only 20 percent of what they learn in a CPR or Heimlich class, Farley said, they have an 80 percent chance of saving a life. "You donít have to be certified to save a childís life," she said. "Thatís something most people donít know." Farley said that in her work to get Chase for Life off the ground, she has learned that parents of children with special needs are required to take these lifesaving classes before they are discharged from the hospital, and she believes it should be an across-the-board requirement. After the near-drowning, Chase was taken to Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, which is the first hospital Farley is working with to implement her child safety instruction classes.

"Everyone in a hospital is certified anyway," she said. "It would just be a one-hour, hands-on instructional workshop teaching the practical aspect. There is such a need for this. I canít believe this hasnít been stressed before." Farley said that the smartest thing she did after her first child was born was spend $60 apiece for her and her husband to take the class that saved Chaseís life. In April, Farley will host a free workshop for all parents of students in the Markham Place and Little Silver Point Road schools. There will be 15 EMS workers with CPR dummies, and refreshments will be provided. "It should be only an hour to an hour-and-a-half," said Farley. Soon she will bring Chase for Life to Oceanport and Sea Bright, and when brochures have been printed, she hopes to extend it to towns like Long Branch, Red Bank and Asbury Park. "There is free education on our Web site," she said. "I really want to expand into areas where the demographic is less likely to afford these classes on their own." Farley said she already is getting calls from as far away as Louisiana and California from people who are interested in starting their own chapters of Chase for Life, but she wants everything up and running here first, so the mission can remain consistent in other branches. "I want to get in touch with every EMS squad in the county," she said. "Right now, weíre really looking for manpower."

With the help of connections she made in her career as a model, Farley is in discussions with the Discovery Health Network for a one-hour TV special about Chaseís accident and the development of Chase for Life. She currently appears on a show on the same channel titled "Runway Moms" and her daughters are on their way to becoming models like their mother. Chase was recently the face of Baby Gap in a print ad campaign. Farley is attempting to contact Oprah Winfrey, and has reached out to Dr. Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, who is a member of the board of trustees of Chase for Life. Eventually, Farley said, she wants Chase for Life to become an all-around child resource center for families in crisis that will deal with both abuse and accident issues. To volunteer with Chase for Life, or to make a donation, visit www.ChaseforLife.org.

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