The lifeguards did not take charge of situation, say the parents of a boy who nearly drowned at Bukit Batok Swimming Complex.
Mr Muhammad Khair had told his five-year-old son Aqil Yusuf to stay on the steps of the swimming pool while he helped his wife change their toddler into her swimming attire.
But when he turned around a few seconds later, the boy was no longer there.
Instead, he was floating face down in the middle of the training pool.
“My wife was holding our toddler and shouting to get the lifeguards’ attention,” said Mr Muhammad, 38, a technician.
“My son’s face was blue and he was foaming in the mouth after I pulled him out of the pool.”
The incident happened at about 5.30pm last Thursday.
Mr Muhammad, who is first-aid trained, performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on his son.
A video clip of him doing that, while surrounded by three lifeguards, has made its rounds on social media.
He managed to revive his son, who was then taken to National University Hospital.
But netizens who had seen the video criticised the couple for being negligent and inattentive to their child.
The couple admitted they should not have left their boy unsupervised and without a proper floating device, but they also added that the lifeguards on duty could have done better to help them by taking charge of the situation.
According to the boy’s mother, they did not act confidently and appeared unsure of how to set up the automated external defibrillator (AED) after her husband pulled their son out of the pool, even though they eventually managed to do so.
Madam Haniza, a housewife who is also first-aid certified, told The New Paper on Sunday: “I heard them asking one another where the AED was and how to set it up, which caused me to panic even more.
“After my husband resuscitated our boy, one of the lifeguards asked me if we still wanted to call for an ambulance, even though it is protocol to call for an ambulance while CPR is being performed.”
Asked to comment on the incident, a spokesman for Sport Singapore, which manages public pools, said that once they had been alerted of the incident, their lifeguards immediately resuscitated the boy while a guest officer called for an ambulance according to protocol.
The spokesman added: “We will be doing a review to enhance the level of service provided to our users.”
Mr Patrick Lee, 46, who runs Lifeguard Singapore, said: “Lifeguards need to be professional enough to operate any medical devices they have on site.”
He also emphasised the need for parents keep a close watch on young children.
“Anything can happen within seconds, and things can happen like water entering the lungs, preventing children from calling for help,” he said.
A version of this article first appeared in The New Paper.
(Photo: Facebook screengrab)