It was a beautiful late afternoon in May of 2013 at the Pirates Bay Waterpark in Baytown, Texas when people started calling for a lifeguard. A small boy was floating face down in the water, and a quick-thinking swimmer grabbed him in her arms, getting him poolside.
In the meantime, lifeguard Joshua Barajas sprung into action. He blew his whistle twice to signal an emergency and then lifted 4-year-old Carlos Mendoza onto the pool deck. While Joshua assessed the little boy and found him unresponsive, two fellow lifeguards, Cody Hix and Ricky Flores, quickly arrived to assist.
With Hix offering guidance from his position near the boy’s head, Barajas and Flores rolled the boy onto his side to empty any water from his mouth and lungs. When they re-positioned him on his back, Barajas saw that the boy wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse. Knowing there wasn’t a moment to lose, he cleared the boy’s mouth and gave two rescue breaths while Flores began chest compressions.
The lifeguards then turned the boy again onto his side to clear his mouth; this time when they rolled him onto his back, Carlos opened his eyes, giving his rescuers some much-needed encouragement. With one more turn to the side, the boy’s lungs finally began working. Hix held the boy’s head while Flores patted the victim's back until his breathing improved.
Meanwhile, having heard the whistle alert, a police officer at the waterpark called for EMTs and kept the area clear for their arrival. Little Carlos was soon transported to the hospital with his grandmother and later fully recovered.
“I gotta say,” Hix said later, “that it was very stressful for all of us, but we are recovering fine. I want to point out that it is the rescuing guards that deserve the credit. They are young but managed to hold their emotions and acted with confidence.”
It may have been a harrowing ordeal for the young lifeguards, but their extensive American Red Cross Lifeguarding, CPR and First Aid training truly paid off. The three lifeguards all received the Red Cross Lifesaving Award, given to professional rescuers who save or sustain a life outside of a medical setting as part of one’s duty to respond.
For 100 years, the Red Cross has trained lifeguards to protect the nation's families at swimming pools, water parks, recreation center, camps and other aquatic facilities. In fact, the Red Cross is the leading lifeguard training organization in the country, instructing nearly 200,000 lifeguards annually over the last few years.
Ensuring your lifeguarding skills are the best they can be is just a click away at redcross.org/takeaclass.