Lifeguards go through hours of training to prepare for the worst-case scenarios, hoping they never have to use the skills they are taught.
This summer, an incident at Welch Pool in State College caused lifeguards Chloe Bevilacqua and Zachary Hagerup to think quickly and rely upon their training to help save the life of a 5-year-old girl.
The two teens were recognized Monday evening at the Centre Region Council of Government’s General Forum meeting by the American Red Cross with the national Lifesaving Award for their actions and use of CPR during the June 16 incident.
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The award is one of the highest honors given by the Red Cross to people who have taken the organization’s training and voluntarily helped to save a life. The certificate is signed by the president of the United States, who is the honorary chairman, as well as the chairman of the Red Cross, according to the organization’s website.
According to Todd Roth, aquatics supervisor for Centre Region Parks and Recreation, Bevilacqua and Hagerup were both working their regular shifts at Welch Pool when they were called to the emergency situation.
A 5-year-old girl was found lying facedown in water and was pulled out by another pool patron, State College police told the Centre Daily Times in June.
Roth said that the two lifeguards, along with another pool patron, who police said was a physician assistant, ran over and started performing two-person CPR until the ambulance arrived.
By the time the ambulance and police officers arrived, the child was “conscious, coughing and breathing,” Officer Bradley Smail said.
The girl was transported to Mount Nittany Medical Center for treatment, then later transferred to Geisinger Danville, for what Smail said he believed to be precautionary measures.
“I’m really proud of the fact that they were able to respond as needed and that their training kicked in,” Roth said. “Not everybody’s able to do that. They’re part of a rare set of people that can act immediately to help people. I was proud of them and I hope they’re proud of themselves, too.”
Roth said that to receive their certification, CRPR lifeguards must undergo 26-28 hours of training. After that, they spend about three-four hours a month reviewing policies, procedures and rescue skills so they can remain refreshed and prepared for whenever an incident might happen.
“These two lifeguards handled themselves very well that day and contributed to a successful outcome. We are very proud of them!” CRPR said in a statement.