Elected officials, city management staff and employees of the City of Hazelwood gathered last night at a City Council meeting to honor “ten brave individuals whose heroic actions clearly saved a life,” according to Hazelwood Fire Chief Dave Herman. These individuals have been working as lifeguards at Hazelwood’s White Birch Bay Aquatic Center and allowed their certified training to kick in to save the life of a 68-year-old grandmother who went into cardiac arrest on July 18th during the heat wave in St. Louis.
The following Hazelwood lifeguards were honored: Anne Fitzgerald, for saving the life of the victim; Juliana Giesler, for saving the life of the victim; Aquatic Supervisor Travis Vancil, for saving the life of the victim; Elizabeth Schneider, for saving the life of the victim; Shelby Croghan, for saving the life of the victim; Halle Durand, for assisting with the life-saving efforts; Zack Taylor, for assisting with the life-saving efforts; Alexandra Boyd, for assisting with the life-saving efforts; Zack Komm, for assisting with the life-saving efforts; and Ke’Aira Robinson, for assisting with the life-saving efforts.
Each of them received the City of Hazelwood’s “Life-Saving Award” which is only given to employees who have performed an exemplary act, resulting in the preservation of life. They were praised for keeping calm and working well together in a stressful situation. According to Elana Sieger Watts of Hazelwood, “We were there at the Aquatic Center when it happened and it was amazing to see the staff come together so quickly and work so efficiently to save a life.”
Dr. Smith, the SSM Health DePaul Hospital ER physician who treated the victim, Martha Timblin, made this comment last night to congratulate them
for what they did: “A lot of people train everyday for worse case scenarios. But I respect people who can step up and do what’s needed when the time comes.”
Dr. Smith made this point as well, “There’s no question in my mind that this woman would not be alive today had it not been for the efforts of these young folks.” He went on to say that he deals with serious situations on a daily basis. “When you have to charge an AED to get ready to shock someone, there’s not many things that are more scary. Because the reality is when you hit the button, it can sometimes make things worse,” he noted. But Dr. Smith commended the lifeguards for being strong enough to do the things they were trained to do and do them right.
“Everybody knew what they needed to do and we were all communicating well,” Anne Fitzgerald said. “It’s an honor to be recognized among these other people.”
Anne Fitzgerald, a swim lesson coordinator, was the first lifeguard who noticed something wrong with Ms. Timblin. After laying Timblin flat on the ground, Fitzgerald began compressions/CPR and was the point person through the whole ordeal with Hazelwood’s Aquatic Supervisor Travis Vancil giving Timblin two shocks, using the AED.
“When I first walked in, I got a little choked up,” Fitzgerald said. “We heard that day that she was doing better and she was stable but actually seeing her in person was a little bit of a shock but obviously really cool.”
Timblin, a Florissant resident, said thank you to all the lifeguards for saving her life. “It just sounds so incredibly understated and so I’m grateful that the city acknowledged it,” she said. “Because of you, I’m still here. I feel fine, I’m grateful. Every minute is because somebody else did what they were trained to do and it worked.”
Timblin says, instead of sending a thank you card to all the lifeguards, she intends to write each of them a letter of recommendation, which they can use for college applications.