Near miss at Wee Waa pool - off-duty cop revives toddler

 AN OFF-DUTY police officer has saved the life of a baby girl, performing CPR after the toddler was dragged unconscious from a public Wee Waa swimming pool.

Senior Constable Shane Middleton from Barwon command was driving down Alma St on Saturday afternoon when he heard panicked screams from near the popular local swimming pool.

He said he saw a woman was cradling her unconscious niece in her arms with the distraught mother at her side, running from the pool’s entrance, frantically trying to get help.

The officer of 15 years’ experience immediately went to the aid of the women and with the help of a pool lifeguard, laid the 15-month-old girl on the footpath and performed CPR.

After a few terrifying seconds, the baby regained consciousness and Senior Constable Middleton scooped her up and ran the hundred or so metres to Wee Waa Hospital emergency department.

Doctors wrapped the girl in foil blankets and gave her oxygen. She was later transferred to Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital where she remained overnight for 


The policeman said he was watching as doctors treated the baby girl and said it was the “best feeling ever” when he heard her crying after being unconscious for several minutes

“It was the best feeling watching her cry like a newborn,” Senior Constable Middleton said.

The humble police officer said he was just doing his job and it was great to see the young girl happy and smiling, in a reunion yesterday.

Tiny Leairah Smith from Narrabri has since made a full recovery, with her mother Beck Gibbs saying she was “eternally grateful” to the police officer and lifeguard for their actions.

She said the family of five had travelled to Wee Waa that morning for a cricket game, and the young mum had gone to the Wee Waa Memorial Swimming Pool with her three children and two sisters to escape the heat.

Leaving her son and two daughters under the watchful eyes of their aunts Julie Summers and Sandy Smith, Beck said she went to the toilet block until she heard screams coming from the direction of the paddling pool.

Chasing a toddler, Julie and Sandy had their attention diverted from the pool for just a few seconds, and found Leairah floating on top of the paddling pool, the toddler already turning blue.

They dragged her from the water and initial attempts to perform CPR failed.

The young mum said she was in shock and hysterical by this stage and was running towards Wee Waa Hospital, just 100 metres up the street when they were spotted by Senior Constable Middleton.

Beck said she owed her young daughter’s life to the officer, and wanted to thank him for his quick-thinking actions that day.

I’m just so grateful, I wouldn’t be sitting here with my baby today,” she said.

Senior Constable Middleton’s supervising Sergeant Ned Gligorevic also praised the policeman’s heroic actions, saying he averted what could have turned into a fatal incident.

“The nature of being a country officer is that you are never quite off-duty,” Sergeant Gligorevic said.

“A serious incident has been averted thanks to his professionalism and quick assessment of the situation. 

“The heroic efforts of Shane have made all the difference for this community.”

“Narrabri Shire Council, Wee Waa and officers of Barwon LAC are extremely proud of him” he said.

Barwon Local Area Command Superintendent, Jenny Hayes said the event was traumatic for the tiny community of Wee Waa and said it was important the water safety message continued to spread.

“Community awareness about water safety is absolutely vital in reducing the number of drowning fatalities,” Superintendent Hayes said.

“One of the best things about living in an area like Barwon is being able to pursue these pastimes, but safety should always be front of mind when in and around the water.”

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