YMCA Stories

June 27, 2013

A Split Second, A Life Saved

The man in the deep end of the pool at the North Area Family YMCA June 25 wasn’t splashing frantically. He wasn’t calling for help. He was just two feet from the wall.

To Janasia Giles, a YMCA lifeguard for five years, however, it was clear: This man was drowning.

“His face was shaking and he started clenching his hand into a fist,” Janasia said. “He just tensed up. He couldn’t kick. He froze in the water.”

All at once, Janasia sprung from the lifeguard chair, signaled the other lifeguard on duty, Phil Knoop, and dove in. Phil hit the alarm button, signalling the YMCA front desk to send help and call 911.

“I got in before his head slipped underwater,” Janasia said.

Janasia’s instant recognition of the signs of drowning, her quick action, and the team effort that followed probably saved the man’s life, said North Area Family YMCA Aquatics Director Jennifer Savery.

“Drowning is so often not recognized by lifeguards,” Jennifer said. “Everyone has it in their heads that drowning is very violent, very active, but it’s not… They did fantastic. It could have been so different, had they not been on their game.”

Janasia said she jumped in without thinking about her own safety.

“I wasn’t thinking about myself at that moment,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘How do I get this guy out of the pool?’”

Janasia quickly put her life buoy beneath the man’s arms. Meanwhile, the other lifeguard on duty, Phil Knoop, cleared the pool quickly, then grabbed more flotation devices and jumped in to help. Together, they pulled the man into the shallow end.

There, Water Fitness Instructor Mary Ellen Miller helped get the man onto a backboard, which helped keep him afloat until the EMTs arrived.

The man was treated at a hospital for several hours and released. He later told YMCA officials that he was impressed with how quickly everyone responded.

Janasia said her quick reaction came from listening to her gut, even though the man looked fine just seconds earlier.

“I’d rather go with that feeling and jump in than not go in and have something happen,” Janasia said.

Filed under Aquatics
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