Earlier this summer, JCC lifeguards Andrew Minkin, Jalina Ray and Jennifer Siegel’s skills were put to the test. Fortunately, all three of the Red Cross-trained lifeguards passed with flying colors, saving the life of a young boy.
When Ray spotted an 8-year-old swimmer, wearing a mask and snorkel, who seemed to be struggling in the pool, she consulted with Minkin. “I couldn’t really tell if he was just playing under water, or in danger and we didn’t want to alarm everybody,” said the 19-year-old. Minkin dove in and pulled the boy out of the water while Ray activated the team’s emergency-action plan.
Once the boy was out of the pool, Minkin began a preliminary assessment while Siegel, the lifeguard for the JCC’s aquatics camp, assisted. “I laid the boy flat on the ground and checked for breathing and a pulse, while Andrew prepared a CPR mask and cleared the area,” recalled Siegel, 18.
After receiving the rescue breaths, the youngster, who was not breathing on his own, began vomiting, so the lifeguards turned him on his side to clear his airway. The team notified emergency medical services and administered emergency oxygen until EMS arrived to take him to the hospital.
It was later determined that water had entered the boy’s snorkel, leading to an asthma attack. As he attempted to catch his breath, he removed his snorkel under water, inhaled more water and then lost consciousness.
“I knew that I had a huge responsibility but it didn’t faze me that I was saving a life,” said Siegel. “I was doing what I was trained to do and none of the guards hesitated about how to assist him,” said Siegel.
“Initially, I was in shock,” said Ray. “I have worked as a lifeguard for the JCC for five years and never had a save. At the end of the day, the training really did come in handy. I’m happy to say we got him out in time.”
Siegel agreed. “I’m happy that our outcome was a good one. It felt good knowing that we saved a life, especially that of an 8-year-old. I feel very differently about being a lifeguard after this. I definitely understand the importance of our job after experiencing firsthand, that a lifeguard can change the outcome of a life or death situation.”
Due to their skillfulness, Minkin, an incoming senior at McDonogh School who’s in his third year of lifeguarding at the JCC, Ray, an incoming sophomore in veterinary science at Tuskegee University who’s in her fifth season as a JCC swim instructor and lifeguard, and Siegel, an incoming freshman at Penn State who’s in her third season as a JCC swim instructor and lifeguard, were honored by the American Red Cross in a ceremony at the JCC on Aug. 14. All three received certificates and pins in recognition of their heroic efforts and lifesaving skills.