North Port police aim to prevent child drownings

Officers are spearheading an effort on their own time

NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) — The North Port Police Department has responded to an increase in child drownings in the area by spearheading an effort to prevent more kids from drowning.

“It was last March, March 8th. You’ll never forget the day if it happens to you,” said Brandie Ledford, whose son Ivan nearly drowned last year.

She tells us the memory still haunts her.

“Went running this way…looking around the yard then I come back and see him in his little blue onesie just floating right there,” she recalled.

Ivan was found face down. He had been floating in the water for nearly five minutes.

“I don’t hardly remember after seeing him, anything other than screaming on the floor,” Ledford said. “I don’t think there was much going on except, “No! God no! God no!” she contninued.

Experts say a drowning child can lose consciouness within two minutes, and in four minutes, they can suffer brain damage. Thankfully, first responders were able to get to Ivan in time to prevent this from happening.

“They did a great job, I’m lucky to have him,” Ledford said.

Ivan has undergone therapy since the accident.

According to the CDC, many children aren’t as fortunate as Ivan. The agency says drowining is one of the leading causes of death for kids ages 1 through 4.

“These are the calls that officers dread,” said North Port Police Captain Chris Morales. “The innocence there, when you first arrive there, the helplessness, the family in that panic mode,” Morales continued.

Morales and his fellow officers say they’ve responded to too many calls of child drownings, and they’re sick of it.

“Instead of being reactive, let’s be proactive,” said Morales

And that’s just what they’re doing.

During their time off, officers began collecting donations and buying pool safety equipment for the community.

“It was one of those things, what can we do better,” said Captain Morales.

Ledford is urging people to buy pool safety equipment and keep an eye on their kids.

“It needs to be talked about because I don’t want other people to experience what I experienced,” she said.

Starting at 10 am on June 24, the North Port Police Department will be at the YMCA North Port Pool giving away pool safety equipment and raffling off pool safety alarms. They will also be providing pool safety tips.

If you’d like more information or if you’d like to donate, you should contact the North Port Police Department.

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