Why Your Support is Vital

Kaitlin’s drowning was preventable, she would have turned 5,
if someone had kept watch.

April 1994 was the birth of Kaitlin and indeed I was the proudest father there could possibly be. Kaitlin became my little shadow. Her strong spirit and happiness for life reflected on all those around her. Her favourite things were to go to the zoo, drawing, swimming, and catch-up with her Grandma and Grandad. I was indeed blessed to have such a loving little daughter.

March 1999, one week from Kaitlin’s fifth birthday, everything changed.

It was late in the afternoon when I received a telephone call from Kaitlin’s Mother. Kaitlin had been taken to hospital. Details were sketchy, but you think not of the worst. Broken arm, fallen over playing?

On arrival at the hospital I found out how wrong I was.

I was told that Kaitlin had gone to a little friend’s house after school and they both went for a swim. Her little friend’s Mother had left them both alone in the pool, unsupervised. Kaitlin was found near lifeless at the bottom of the pool, with her little friend grasping to the edge.

I was taken into the emergency room with Kaitlin’s Mum. This did not look good. Doctors and nurses were crowded around Kaitlin. They didn’t need to say a thing, their facial expressions relayed to me the situation was desperate. We were ushered into a parent room where the Doctor briefly spoke with us. This was our glimmer of hope that they were going to attempt to stabilise her then send her up to ICU.

We both sat for what seemed an eternity in that room, however it hadn’t even been 10 minutes when we were brought back to the emergency room. The doctors and nurses stepped back, their faces full of sadness. Despite their best efforts Kaitlin died. I lifted Kaitlin up in my arms and held her, just thinking, this can’t be happening.

People try to reflect how you feel. I guess those that read this that have lost a child will know. You are hit with a wave of shock that clouds everything. I look back now and think it is what helped me get through to the point of placing Kaitlin to rest. Each of us grieves differently, but one thing for sure there is an indescribable pain associated with the loss of a child.

There seems like a million questions that you want answered. While some can be answered there are others that cannot. I commenced doing some research on the number of toddlers that drowned in Western Australia and was horrified at the statistics. Toddler drowning is the number one preventable cause of death of children aged 0 to 5, like Kaitlin.

Over the past 10 years, I have been working with the Royal Life Saving Society in WA as an ambassador, and we have made great progress to reduce toddler drowning, but we must never become complacent.

Please help Royal Life Saving to continue its important work to reduce toddler drowning and always KEEP WATCH.

Mark Gubanyi
RLSSWA Keep Watch Ambassador

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Keep Watch is Royal Life Saving’s longest running drowning prevention campaign which looks to raise awareness amongst parents/carers of young children under five years of age of drowning prevention issues in and around the home.

Please help Royal Life Saving to continue its important work to reduce toddler drowning and always KEEP WATCH.

Mark Gubanyi
RLSSWA Keep Watch Ambassador

Mark Gubanyi

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