OINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — A day at the pool can be a time for cooling off, spending time with friends and just enjoying everything about being at the pool. However, for one Airman, the fun time became a nightmare.
The National Anthem played signaling that everyone should be out of the pool. Perched on her lifeguard stand, Savannah Delange, aged 17 and daughter of Col. Eric Delange, 688th Cyberspace Wing former commander, noticed that one swimmer wasn’t getting out. He was struggling underwater and needed help.
Delange, 502nd Force Support Squadron lifeguard, immediately jumped in to rescue him.
Another lifeguard also noticed the situation. Eric Medelez, aged 17 and son of Master Sgt. Martha Vasquez-Medelez, 149th Fighter Wing, promptly alerted the other lifeguards with his whistle.
“I heard the three whistles signifying an emergency as I was diving in,” said Delange. “When I hit the water, it hit me that he was probably going unconscious at the bottom of the pool.”
Delange pulled the Airman to the surface and headed to the edge of the pool where Bailey Parker, 502nd FSS lifeguard, waited with a backboard in the water. He helped pulled the Airman out of the water.
“I immediately check for a pulse and signs of life,” said Parker. “The pulse was not stable at all.”
His condition was not good.
Parker yelled for the automated external defibrillator (AED) and announced that 911 needs to be called.
Parker and Delange worked together with Silvia Garcia, aged 19 and another lifeguard, to stabilize the Airman with CPR. Parker gave two rescue breaths as Delange applied 30 chest compressions. Garcia prepared and monitored the AED. She stood ready to use it if needed.
“When I went out there, everything seemed very slow in my head,” said Garcia.
Despite the sensation of things moving slowly, Garcia focused on the situation and was ready to take action.
“I wanted him to come back and be O.K.,” said Garcia. “I was waiting.”
But no charge was needed according to the AED’s readings. After three cycles of CPR, the Airman finally regained consciousness and began stabilizing.
While the Airman was being treated, Medelez cleared a path for the arrival of emergency medical services.
“It was already tough with everything that was going on,” said Medelez. “I didn’t want to interfere with the process of what is already happening [and] this was what I could do to contribute and help save this Airman’s life.”
For some, time appears to move very slowly when confronted with a stressful situation. Others resort on their training.
Stephanie Soto, 502nd FSS aquatics director and lifeguard instructor, provides extensive training ona regular basis to all the lifeguards.
“Every few weeks we do a timed rescue audit,” said Soto. “We get someone to pretend that they are drowning to test the lifeguard on how fast they can react.”
Soto’s staff are there to provide a secure environment and willing to offer any assistance needed to visitors.
“Whether assisting them for a better life jacket, understanding the rules, or offering pointers in becoming a better swimmer, they go above and beyond to help the customer,” said Soto. “It amazes me every single day. I’m proud to have these individuals on my team.”
There were more than just these four lifeguards that made up the moving pieces of that day.
Delange, Parker, Garcia, and Medelez wouldn’t have been able to operate successfully without the help of their fellow staff workers that day as well. Together, they all contributed to something that very few can say they’ve accomplished in life, Soto adds.
“We can look back and dwell on what we could have done better,” said Medelez. “But at the end of the day, all of our skills came together and kept this man alive. That’s the best thing.”