Teen EMT performs CPR to save girl, 5, at Rainbow Beach

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A recently-trained teen EMT heard calls for help at a beach on Chicago's South Side and sprang into action to save a 5-year-old girl drowning in Lake Michigan.

"We were all at the beach enjoying our day and it just turned out bad," said Kianti Champion, the teenager who helped save the girl. "It was kind of saddening because her mom was just at her feet the whole time crying."

It happened around 9 p.m. Tuesday night as Champion and her family enjoyed a day at Rainbow Beach. They were about to leave when the 19-year-old heard someone screaming for help.

"So I'm like, we got to go and help," Champion said. "So I ran over, just dropped everything and ran over, and I started compressions and I kept doing compressions until help came."

Just moments earlier, a swimmer had found the girl unresponsive in the water and pulled her to shore. Champion's mother, who happens to be a nurse, said her daughter never hesitated.

"To have your 19-year-old be your hero is an awesome feeling," Kianti's mother, Ebony Walton, said.

Bystanders said Champion performed CPR on the little girl until paramedics arrived - a skill she had recently learned during her training to be a firefighter/EMT. She had just completed training at the Black Fire Brigade, a not-for-profit that provides training for African Americans pursuing careers in fire and rescue service.

"This organization started about a year ago and we've put 150 kids through the program already, 25 single moms and two homeless kids," said Quentino Curtis, of the Black Fire Brigade. "They're employed and that's important."

And while Champion could graduate as the valedictorian of her class, her thoughts are not about her achievements, but the condition of the little girl she brought back to life.

"That's all I've been thinking about is her. I've been hoping. I've just been praying. I hope she's OK," she said.

The girl was taken to Comer Children's Hospital in grave condition, where she remains hospitalized. Her family chose not to comment on her condition Wednesday afternoon.

The Chicago Park District said life guards are only on duty from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. After 7 p.m., a red flag and signs are posted that say no swimming allowed when a lifeguard is not on duty.
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