The two-year-old twin girls who drowned in the family swimming pool at Umhlanga on Tuesday afternoon probably shared the same special bond that makes the two paramedics who struggled for more than an hour to revive them inseparable.
Colleagues who watched twin brothers and paramedics Gary and Shaun Paul desperately try to revive Lindile and Nandile Shange said that having identical twins working to save the lives of identical twins made the whole case all the more unusual and heartbreaking.
The brothers did CPR for three-minute stretches, stopping in between and assessing the situation, and then continuing.
“We always thought there was hope. You always hope and pray there is a positive outcome. We have a two-year-old nephew, so it was in the back of our minds that this could be somebody we know.
“Eventually, I discussed [the situation] with my brother and our team and we agreed that there was nothing more that we could do and we had to declare them dead,” Gary Paul said yesterday.
He said he automatically phoned his brother, who was off duty at the time. When he arrived on the scene, he found the children’s grandmother and domestic workers on their knees crying next to the children. The sheets covering their bodies had been pulled over their heads.
“I was a bit taken aback,” he admitted, adding that when he took off the sheets, he found two incredibly beautiful children.
“You couldn’t tell them apart. They were dressed the same with the same hair bands and pigtails.”
The Shange twins were left in the care of their grandmother and domestic workers. It is believed the children left the house when their backs were turned.
They were later found floating in the swimming pool. It is not known how long they were in the water. The pool area is not fenced and there was no net over the pool.
The parents arrived home in the middle of the resuscitation attempt. “When the mother came, she was totally broken. You could see that these children were so loved. We asked [the mother] to move away and give us some time and we would give her some feedback,” said Paul.
Gary Paul heads Netcare 911’s Umhlanga operation, while his brother Shaun heads the Ballito operation.
“We are good friends, we have always worked well together. We trained together, we each know how the other thinks and how he will react,” Paul said, admitting that they phone each other about 10 times a day and always discuss the bigger and more difficult cases such as this. “We work hand in hand. If it is a big case, Shaun will always call me and vice versa. It is nice to have that back-up and reassurance.”
The Pauls began doing first aid at school and were out doing volunteer work before they matriculated. They completed degrees in emergency medical care last year, making them among the highest qualified paramedics in the country — two out of a national total of 20.