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Hastings woman helps save swimmer's life at Lake Elmo

It didn't take long for Hastings resident Amy Peterson to put the skills she learned in school to the test.

This spring, Peterson took Emergency Medical Technician courses at Inver Hills Community College. On Saturday while at Lake Elmo, she helped save a boy's life using those same skills.

Peterson, her husband and children went to the lake to go swimming and were getting ready to leave when they noticed a Sheriff's car and a commotion on the other side of the beach. Two men had found a boy in the water and had brought him to the beach.

Peterson raced to the scene and got to work.

"They had just pulled him out of the water," she said. "He was totally not responsive. I could tell by the way he was breathing that he was pretty full of water."

The sheriff's deputy had oxygen tanks with him, and Peterson put those to use on the boy. She found some blankets and covered him up. Her husband had gone to the car to get her medical equipment, including a stethoscope. Peterson used that stethoscope to listen to the boy's lungs, which confirmed what she was afraid of - water, and lots of it.

"It was basically like listening to the inside of a seashell," she said. "We ended up moving him over to his side and water started coming out."

Soon after, paramedics arrived and put the 8-year-old boy into an ambulance and raced off.

The boy was apparently at the park with extended family members, including an aunt and some cousins. He ended up in the swimming area by himself and was eventually found by the two men who pulled him from the water.

"I haven't been able to get a lot of information about him," Peterson said. As of Tuesday night, the news was encouraging and it sounded as though the boy was going to survive.

"We have no idea how long he was under water. The area was busy, but without anyone watching for him, it's hard to say how long he was under water."

Peterson completed the EMT courses in May and will begin paramedic classes at IHCC soon.

At church Sunday, Peterson bumped into her doctor, who was happy to see her jump in and help like she did.

"Talk about being baptized by fire," he told her.

Peterson said a big reason she got into the field was to be there for her kids. Her son choked once when was little, and that scared her

As an EMT and a paramedic, "you have the opportunity to make a difference for people," she said. "Even though you go to school for it and are prepared for it, you still hope you don't have to put those skills to use.

"I feel fortunate that I was there and that I was able to at least make some difference."

Peterson, who writes a column in this newspaper about being a mother, said the situation at the beach also reinforced to her the importance of always keeping an eye on your children.

"Accidents are going to happen, and it really stinks when they do," she said. "The worst ones are the preventable ones, which this certainly was."