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In the wake of a near-drowning at a local condo pool, Marco Island Police Chief Al Schettino and Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy are urging parents and community members to pay attention to water safety for toddlers and youngsters around the home, at condos, hotels and on the beach.

Their call for vigilance comes as tragedy was averted by two young fifth-graders girls on spring break.

"Two young girls had noticed the victim was in distress and immediately intervened and probably helped to save the other little girl's life," said Murphy. "Another quick-thinking adult by the pool administered CPR and the little girl immediately responded."

Kylie Drudge, 10, and her best friend, Ryan Cooksey, 11, who are vacationing here with Kylie's family from Greenfield, Ind., intervened and helped to avert the accident.

Kylie first noticed the 2-year-old floating face down in the condo pool.

"I was scared and wanted to help," said Kylie.

Kylie immediately went to the aid of the small child and floated her to her girlfriend, Ryan, who picked up the child and called for help as she climbed up the pool steps. Her initial screams for assistance were not immediately noticed by those around the pool.

An unidentified adult then took the limp body of the 2-year-old, placed it on the pool deck and began administering lifesaving techniques. Shortly thereafter, Marco police and fire-rescue personnel arrived and the little girl was revived and transported to a Naples health facility.

"These are the worst kind of calls an officer or fire/medic can get," said Sgt. Hector Diaz, who responded to the call on Saturday. "They see the faces of their own children and it sends a terrible chill through them."

The officers on the scene of this latest near-tragedy went to a local ice cream shop and provided the two little girls with gift certificates for their quick thinking. When interviewed this week, the girls also were sporting new earrings and other finery purchased with their gifts from the officers.

Both girls say they'll have quite a story to tell when asked what they did on their fifth-grade spring vacation.

Enhancing pool safety

Marco Island fire-rescue service authorities say a number of things can be done and equipment or devices added to enhance the safety environment around a pool, including:

Door alarms to let you know if a toddler opens a lanai door giving him or her access to the pool area without your knowledge;

Interior perimeter fencing around a pool inside the cage area;

Floating alarms in the pool to warn if a child should fall into pool outside your line of sight;

Take your child at the earliest possible age to your local YMCA or other similar facility to receive swim lessons. The earlier the better, so they learn basic safety skills such as floating on their backs;

Take a CPR course yourself to become aware of lifesaving techniques;

Ensure there is a cover on a spa to prevent an accidental drowning;

If you have a small inflatable pool in the backyard, empty it at the end of the day of supervised play.

If you are at a condominium or hotel, someone must constantly monitor children and not walk away;

Pick up children's toys around the pool when you are not there, they act as an attractable hazard;

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