Saving Waylon

Waylon Saunders

February 16, 2023

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and in the case of Waylon Saunders, it also took a village to save one.

On January 24, Waylon fell through the ice covering the pool at his babysitter’s house. It is estimated he was underwater for approximately five minutes.

Firefighters were first on the scene, followed by EMS. Waylon was brought to Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital in Petrolia, where Dr. Nathan Taylor was on duty for the day.

Once they heard Waylon was coming, everyone who could came to help. “The other doctors that I work with at our family health team came running, left their offices, to help out,” Dr Taylor recalls.

They also used CritiCall to engage with their closest tertiary care hospital: Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). Dr Janice Tijssen was the physician on-call that day for the Paediatric Critical Care Unit (PCCU). She was able to immediately dispatch the Children’s Hospital Neonatal Paediatric Transport Team to Petrolia.

When Waylon arrived at Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital his body temperature was so low that their equipment was unable to read it. He was also in cardiac arrest. Nurses from both the ED and acute care units came to help, as did lab techs and EMS who stayed to help.

“It was truly a team effort: lab techs were holding portable heaters in the room at one point; EMS personnel also helped out by rotating through as compressors and helping with managing his airway and nurses were even running to microwave water to help with warming,” Dr. Taylor explains. “And the whole time we had support on the line from the team in London.”

Dr. Taylor estimates there were as many as 20 individuals working to keep Waylon alive in the Petrolia hospital.

With guidance over the phone from Dr. Tijssen, the team performed CPR for just short of three hours in order to obtain a sustained pulse for Waylon.

The team was able to get a sustained pulse shortly after the Children’s Hospital transport team arrived, and after they were able to work together to further stabilize him he was transported to Children’s Hospital.

Once he arrived in London, the team in the PCCU continued with stabilization, including ongoing rewarming and neuroprotection. Waylon was sedated so he was comfortable.

Dr. Tijssen estimates that as many as 10 staff at LHSC were involved in Waylon’s immediate care on arrival, and that doesn’t count the dozens who were involved in his care for the duration of his stay.

Almost two weeks to the day, Waylon was discharged on February 6, and is now recovering at home. While there is certainly a long road ahead, his family are hopeful that being at home will help with his care journey going forward.

Drs. Taylor and Tijssen agree that it was a combination of skill, determination and teamwork that kept Waylon alive that day.

“He beat the odds. Everyone worked so well together and the transition was seamless between different stages of his care journey,” Dr. Tijssen says. “Everyone used their skills, and we truly worked as a team. We couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome.”

Jessi Baer and Charity Lindsay of the Children’s Hospital Neonatal Paediatric Transport Team, Dr Janice Tijssen and mom Gillian Burnett with son Waylon Saunders.
Image (Left to right): Jessi Baer and Charity Lindsay of the Children’s Hospital Neonatal Paediatric Transport Team, Dr Janice Tijssen and mom Gillian Burnett with son Waylon Saunders.