Rescuer wonders if AED could have helped Devil's Lake victim - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Rescuer wonders if AED could have helped Devil's Lake victim


SAUK COUNTY (WKOW) -- A Middleton woman who helped try and save the life of a three year old, apparent drowning victim at Devil's Lake State Park wonders if the presence of an AED at the park could have made a difference in the rescue attempt.

"Would we have used it in the attempt? Yes," says Melissa Donahue, who is an emergency service technician at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison.

Donahue says she discovered a crowd of people around an unresponsive, little girl Thursday at the state park's south beach.  Donahue says one man was already performing CPR and she began helping him.

"It seems like forever," Donahue says of the period of rescue breathing she and the man delivered to the girl. Donahue says a doctor and nurse who were at the park and came upon the emergency also helped. Donahue estimates it was thirty minutes before paramedics from Baraboo arrived and took over.

Donahue says there were no automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) available during their rescue effort.

AEDs have become increasingly present in public places, such as schools and gymnasiums. The device's purpose is to use electrical therapy to try to restart the heart.

Donahue says she's been trained on AEDs. Manufacturers of the device say it is designed to be able to be used by a layman with no previous training, if need be.

State park superintendent Steve Schmelzer of the department of natural resources says park staff members have not been trained on AEDs, and the park is not equipped with them.

But Schmelzer says paramedics at a nearby, Baraboo ambulance station have AEDs, are trained on the device, and respond to emergencies at Devil's Lake.

Schmelzer says those paramedics arrived at Wednesday's emergency and relieved a park ranger, Donahue and the other rescuers. Schmelzer says their arrival was less than thirty minutes after the first 911 call on the incident was received.

Schmelzer says there are no lifeguards at Devil's Lake's beaches, and swimmers must be careful.

"The family had indicated the child had gone under (the water) for a couple minutes and gone missing, and they pulled her from the water," Schmelzer says of Wednesday's apparent drowning.

Beaver Dam physician Amy Muchow took her young son to Devil's Lake's south beach Friday, aware of what had happened the day before.

Muchow says she's a frequent visitor to the state park, and feels the actions of the rescuers speak to the concern for others of people at Devil's Lake.

"There's kind of a camaraderie here. We watch each other's kids, too, " Muchow says.

Donahue says her thoughts and prayers go out to the victim's family.

"We did as much as we could with what we had."


 SAUK COUNTY (WKOW) -- State officials say a 3-year-old girl drowned at Devil's Lake State Park Thursday evening.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, when rangers arrived on the scene just after 5:00 p.m., they found the child had been pulled from the water by family members and that she was unresponsive.

The DNR says CPR was performed by three visitors, including two doctors and a registered nurse, as well as DNR staff. At 6:07 p.m., the young girl was pronounced dead on the scene.

Authorities say she was from the Madison area but have not released her identity.


SAUK COUNTY (WKOW) -- Sauk County dispatch tells WKOW that a call came in for a 3-year-old drowning victim at Devil's Lake State Park just after 5:00 p.m. Thursday.

A Devil's Lake employee says they cannot comment at this time, but will release a statement shortly.

Stay with 27 News at for the latest on this developing story.

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