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Voyageur's Best Features of 2004

BilliJo Baumeister

Tragedy averted at Country Meadows Inn
BilliJo Baumeister saves 4-year-old Fayth Randol
by John Grones  | December 21, 2004

For the Randol family, Tues., Dec 14 was supposed to be a funfilled evening with the grandparents. They all met at the Country Meadows Inn in McGregor this past week so the children would have an opportunity to enjoy the indoor pool. What started out as a joyous occasion, quickly turned into an emergency. While swimming in the pool, Michelle Randol looked away for just a moment and her 4-year-old daughter was face down in the pool.

“I had been trying to teach her to float,” said Michelle, “so when I turned around my first reaction was... oh, she’s floating. Then it was... no she’s not!” Like any mother faced with such an emotional situation, she panicked. She screamed for help and rushed her daughter to the front desk.

The decision to bring Fayth to the front desk immediately turned out to be a good one, because BilliJo Baumeister, a mother of five children herself, was working at the desk. “I remember mom screaming for help,” said BilliJo, “and she laid the baby on the floor near the desk. The baby was quite purple.”

According to BilliJo, everything happened so fast. “The mom said she just turned away for a second, but she hadn’t communicated what had actually happened. Mom rushed off to get the grandparents, and there I was, alone with the baby.”

BilliJo recalled her only training from required classes she had at Buffalo High School and instinctively began aplying pressure to the abdomen in an effort to clear the airway. A gush of water and the child’s previous meal came up. Fayth began breathing and then crying immediately. “The baby screamed,” added BilliJo. “I’ve never been so happy to hear a baby scream in my life!”

BilliJo is a McGregor resident. She has been working at the Country Meadows Inn at the corner of Hwy 210 and 65 for three years. Her duties at the front desk do not include any lifeguarding skills.

Alice Pickles, owner of Country Meadows, shared that the guests are pretty much on their own when it comes to using the pool at the hotel. The rules state that all children up to age 16 must be attended by an adult and there is no lifeguard on duty. She also noted that employees are not required to be CPR certified, but it is nice if they are. “I’m just so glad that BilliJo had the wherewithal to do what she did,” said Alice. “I’m just so proud of her. She is such a wonderful person. I just can’t say enough about her.”

Alice also commented on the fact that BilliJo was not scheduled to work that evening and she switched with another employee. BilliJo could only conclude that God was with her and wanted her to be there at that particular time.

Once the McGregor Ambulance arrived on the scene, the girl was checked out and then rushed to the Aitkin hospital to be checked out by a doctor. According to EMT Mike Williams, anytime water enters the lungs, the patient must be looked at by a doctor.

Mike also added that even though the response time was quick, it may not have been fast enough. Mike and some of his co-workers just happened to be 20 yards from the ambulance at a meeting. Mike also commented on why the actions of a person on the scene are so important. From the time a person stops breathing to the time it takes to get the person out of the water, make the phone call, get to the ambulance, and make the drive, many minutes are involved. “Try not breathing for six minutes,” said Mike.

Fayth did require additional medical attention at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth. Her oxygen level dropped and she had a fever of 102?.

BilliJo’s actions were much appreciated, not only by the family, but by the trained professionals from McGregor. “In my opinion,” said Mike, “she (BilliJo) probably averted a tragedy.”

“Seeing her lay there, was really sad,” BilliJo concluded. “I’m just glad everything worked out. I don’t know if I could have handled it if it hadn’t.”

Michelle feels indebted to BillyJo and is convinced that she is a hero. “I’ve always tried to teach my kids that there are heroes in this world,” said Michelle. “This proves it.”

This article first appeared in the December 21, 2004 issue of the Voyageur Press.