Collette Ellerman receives American Red Cross Certificate of Merit
American Red Cross lifeguard and lifeguarding instructor Collette Ellerman is trained and at the ready to help protect the lives of the people who visit the pool at the Woodbridge Community Center, but one night last May, the 25 year-old found herself putting her lifesaving skills to work outside the pool.
On the evening of May 26, 2015, Collette finished instructing a CPR class with lifeguarding students at the Woodbridge Community Center and was driving to an offsite pool location with fellow lifeguard Michael Morse when she noticed a commotion on the side of the road. Collette saw people pulling an unconscious man from the driver’s seat of a pickup truck. She immediately pulled over and ran to the vehicle to see if help was needed while Michael grabbed the CPR supplies they had with them in the car.
“It was obvious to me that this was some kind of medical emergency,” Collette recalled. “I guess I didn’t think twice about stopping. I’m trained and if I can help someone, I will.”
Collette helped lower the man to the ground as his friends explained that he had passed out while driving and how luckily, one of them was able to put their foot on the brake and shift the truck into park.
Collette put on her gloves, prepared her CPR mask and instructed a nearby person to call 911 while she performed a primary assessment. Collette found that the man was not breathing properly and began administering rescue breaths. After 45 seconds of rescue breathing, the victim began coughing and Collette moved him to his side, cleared his mouth and then continued to perform rescue breathing until emergency medical help arrived.
“I was able to put my Red Cross training into action without hesitation,” said Collette. “I knew what I needed to do to help save him and the actions came quite naturally, even though my adrenaline was pumping thinking every second counts.”
Police and EMS arrived on the scene and the man was taken to the hospital for additional care. The man was treated at the hospital and later released.
On November 10, Woodbridge Township Mayor John E. McCormac and members of the township’s Municipal Council recognized Collette and Michael for their lifesaving actions during a council meeting with family members, friends and co-workers in attendance.
It was also during the meeting that Christy Hodde, executive director with the Red Cross New Jersey Region, presented Collette with the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit.
The Certificate of Merit is the highest award given by the American Red Cross to an individual who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Health and Safety Services course. The certificate is signed by President of the United States Barack Obama, who is the honorary chairman of the American Red Cross, and American Red Cross Chairman of the Board Bonnie McElveen-Hunter. In addition to the Certificate of Merit, Collette also received a medallion and lapel pin.
“The American Red Cross is very proud of Collette for her compassionate desire to help others and how, without hesitation, she used her Red Cross training to step forward and save a life,” said Hodde.
TAKE A CLASS: You too can learn lifesaving skills. With an emphasis on hands-on learning, the Red Cross CPR/AED course teaches how to properly administer CPR and utilize an AED to provide immediate care during a cardiac or breathing emergency until medical personnel arrive. Learn how to respond to common first aid emergencies including cuts; burns; head, neck and spinal injuries; and more by taking the Red Cross First Aid course. Find a course near you.