By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio
June 17, 2020- Water Works Aquatic Center in Cuyahoga Falls reopened last week, and if past performance is any indicator of future results, swimmers there will be safe, thanks to the training received by lifeguards at the facility.
Six lifeguards who responded when a child failed to surface from the pool there last summer have been given the American Red Cross Lifesaver Award for Professional Responders. The incident, which led to their recognition, took place July 20, 2019. The six lifeguards, Cameron Bennett, Nick Little, Michael Petrecca, Vincent Petrecca, Dakota Shroyer and Alexandra Staubs, each played a role in the rescue.
The child suffered a heat-related event, sank below the surface of the water, vomited and went passive. The child was unconscious when pulled from the water, but was breathing and had a pulse. He was conscious but confused when EMS arrived. The child was admitted to the hospital for treatment and released the following day.
All six lifeguards received Red Cross lifeguard training, as well as First Aid/CPR/AED.
Kathleen Burt, aquatics manager at the City of Cuyahoga Falls nominated the lifeguards for the award. “I think the world of every single member of our team,” Burt said. “We truly are a family and a team, and I’m thankful for the effort they put forward.”
“You always hope you don’t have to use what you learned,” said senior guard Michael Petrecca. In describing the rescue, he said, “It was instinct. The facility has great leadership, and the training we have in place is pretty rigorous.”
The Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders is bestowed upon Red Cross-trained individuals who have an obligation to respond to an emergency, including police, firefighters, EMS, EMT, healthcare professionals and lifeguards. Since 2018, nearly 800 individuals have been honored worldwide for helping to save almost 350 lives.
Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters said, “You make us extremely proud. Thank you very much for being heroes.”
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer