July 5, 1999
DUVALL--Alia Christman says that when she was training to be a lifeguard, she wondered how she would react if she were suddenly faced with a real emergency.
Now she knows. Christman, a '99 Cedarcrest High School graduate, has been credited with saving the life of a 7-year-old boy while she was on duty at the Bellevue Aquatics Center on Friday, June 25.
She said was in the "high chair" watching over a group of children playing in the pool, when she saw a small boy at the bottom of the shallow end. "First I thought he was just playing around," she said. "But I continued to keep an eye on him and saw he didn't come up and he wasn't moving."
Christman, 17, said her training kicked in automatically.
"I jumped into the water and used a spinal hold, cradling his neck, as we were taught," she said. "When I got him up, I realized he wasn't breathing and that he was limp, his lips were blue, and he had no pulse. I started giving him breaths when he was still in the water."
She said two other lifeguards helped put him on a backboard, and moved him to the deck. One of them, Scott Armstrong, the pool's program administrator, revived the boy quickly using cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
The boy, Charlie Kaing of Bellevue, had been attending the Bellevue Family YMCA day camp, which was on an outing to the pool. His parents said he did not know how to swim and that the boy's primary language is Chinese, which made it difficult for him to communicate.
Christman estimated that Charlie had been underwater for only 20-40 seconds before she pulled him out. Charlie was taken by paramedics to Children's Hospital & Medical Center in Seattle, where he was treated and released.
Last Friday, Charlie and his family presented Alia with a dozen roses at her home in Duvall. "It was good to see the boy doing so great," she said.
Christman has been a lifeguard since October and will continue her job until she heads off to the University of Washington this fall. She says she is interested in studying medicine.
Christman has also had a busy high school career. She spent her junior year in Chile as an exchange student, and this year qualified for a scholarship from the Duvall Civic Club.