Sharyn Hobbs

“Sometimes it still feels like yesterday”

image of Sharyn HobbsMy son Declan was 18 months old when he had his accident. I was really busy preparing for a family BBQ and didn’t notice that all four of my kids had gone out into the backyard. When I realised it was too quiet, I panicked and started running around yelling out to the kids. In the few minutes that my concentration had lapsed, Declan had slipped, knocking himself unconscious and fallen face down in a shallow pond in our backyard.

It had been 18 years since I last did resuscitation training, and with being in shock, it was very difficult to try to resuscitate him. A neighbour jumped the fence and began resuscitation. Declan was then taken to Joondalup Health Campus where I watched him being worked on in ED. It was a traumatic sight which keeps playing over and over in my mind. Once he’d been stabilised he was transferred to the PMH Intensive Care Unit. The following day we were told that his organs were recovering well from the submersion, however the head injury meant there was no neurological response. My little boy had such a big personality and I didn’t want him to survive, just to be a shell in a bed on a ventilator so I decided to have the life support switched off. I held him tightly while he passed which thankfully was fairly quick.

Declan died on December 16 2002 and his funeral was held on December 23. While the shock is long gone, the pain is still no less and sometimes it still feels like yesterday.

I’d always wanted to be a nurse and had contemplated studying when Declan went to preschool, but as I left the hospital I realised I couldn’t face it. I thought about becoming a first aid trainer so I could save lives through education instead. At the time I applied to Royal Life Saving I was still waiting for my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and could only run Heart Beat Club courses — a community first aid and CPR program for parents and carers. For a while I was disappointed at only being given HBC courses, but I think it’s been very therapeutic for me to share my story, which I hopes helps make the participants in my courses more aware of water safety and drowning prevention.

I’m now close to completing my nursing studies and ECU and look forward to making the transition to nursing during the next 12 months. However I plan to still continue work with Royal Life Saving as a Heart Beat Club trainer and parent ambassador for the Keep Watch program. My desire is to share the message of just how important it is to restrict children's access to water, and know vital CPR skills not only because you may need them to save your child, but to stand in the gap for a friend or family member who may be frozen in shock as I was when my son drowned.

Find out how you can take part in a Heart Beat Club course at the link below.

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