It was the 17th anniversary of the day Mark Whaley became a cop: July 3. He was enjoying an early 4th of July party with family and friends in Campton Hills and playing bags -- relaxing on his day off. Then the mood changed.
His 14-year-old daughter noticed a toddler in the pool. She jumped in the water and pulled the boy out, noticing immediately he was in trouble. Whaley's wife started chest compressions and called out to him to take over.
As an Elgin Police Department detective, trained annually in CPR, Whaley knew the statistics. CPR rarely saves lives and when it does, there is often brain damage from the time without oxygen.
But in this case, the story has a happy ending.
"From what I understand, he spent the night in the hospital for observation and the next day he was fine," Whaley said.
When the boy's family went back to the house where the party was held to pick up things they left behind in the rush to the hospital, they realized just how little the trauma had affected him.
"The kid wanted to go swimming again," Whaley said.
Saving the 2-year-old was a group effort, according to Whaley, who lives near DeKalb. One person called 911, the homeowner stood out front to wave down the paramedics and the toddler's father was right by Whaley's side talking to his son, patting his back after he threw up some of the water. Another partygoer helped clear the boy's airway and clean his mouth out.
Whaley said he felt calm, like he was at work.
"There's no reason to panic," Whaley said. "Just try to get everything under control and stabilize the situation and wait for the professionals to get there."
By the time Fox River and Countryside paramedics arrived -- just five minutes after the 911 call -- the toddler was breathing on his own. He hadn't regained consciousness yet but he was firmly in the land of the living. The ambulance took him to Delnor Hospital in Geneva where he became alert again.
It doesn't seem like the near-death experience will slow him down at all.
Paramedics said Whaley's actions were critical in the positive outcome. Quick action by everyone at the party saved the boy's life.
For Whaley, he'll continue with his annual CPR training and enroll his kids as well. As they recently found out, it's a skill everyone should have.