Name of Hero: Robert
Hero City: Victoria
Submitted by: Robert Hamilton
Working as the head lifeguard at Beaver lake in Victoria BC, it was the last shift of the of the season. In fact it was the last fifteen minutes of the last shift.
I was manning chair #1 which was at the far right of the lifeguarded beach and the bather load in my zone was pretty lite. Most of the swimmers were in front of chair #2 at the center of the beach. The sun was to my left and the glare on the water in that direction was almost completely blinding. I noticed an unusual commotion near the far edge of chair #1 left side zone, right in the glare.
I didn’t hear anything come over the radio from chair #2 which had a better view of the area and no glare. I felt something was wrong with a final scan of my now quiet zone I jumped down from my chair and could see a figure running out of the water in a panic.
I quickly scanned the water and could make out two sets of distressed people.
I broke into a full run weaving my way around beach goers, towards the four people in jeopardy.
As I arrived at the closest entry point and proceeded to run into the water and did a few leaping steps till it got deep enough to dive. As I started my dive I released the rescue can from my grasp and cut into the water. I came up fast sprinting to the drowning pairs.
Two double distress’s, the two girls slightly closer that the two boys, I got close to the girls as they submerged I saw the older girl about a foot and a half below the surface her sister on her back arms wrapped around the older girls neck. I could see the terror on her wide eyes looking up to the surface, no space to do a traditional submerged approach. I was to close to execute the maneuver, luckily i could reach down with my left arm wrap it around the girls and hall them up. As the older girl, with the little one still clamped on, broke the surface she immediately grabbed around my neck and shoulder. I kicked hard and supported us. With my right arm I reached back for my rescue can to thrust to the boys just about a meter or two away and I saw my backup guard reach the boys. I pulled the girls from my neck and gave the older girl the rescue can.
Heading back to shore seemed a breeze. We place all four kids on the wall behind chair #2 and began doing first aid assessments. Surprisingly all were alert, oriented and hadn’t swallow any water.
I was feeling relieved and grateful when I looked up. The park seemed to be a landslide of family members, mom’s, dad’s, grandparents, running towards the beach.
The one that started the commotion was the older sibling running out of the water when he realized the cousins and sisters were in trouble. He ran right past the lifeguards nearest the scene.
I put up my hands and said “whooaa, they are okay” and it seem to have the desired effect. We rechecked the kids and they were all breathing fine and had calmed down. The little girl even let go of her sister. We advised the parents about secondary drowning and that it was a good idea for a check up.
If this had happen 15 minutes later we would have been off the beach and packing up. If nobody notice these kids in distress it would have then fallen to other first responders to do the grim task of recovery.
But not that day….instinct, training and skill helped prevent a tragedy.
I am glad I was there, I will never forget the girls face as she sank deeper…. those eyes pleading. Proud that I could answer the call.
The elapsed time was approximately five minutes. Just enough time in the last shift to fill out the last of the first aid reports and incident report and it was the end of the season, I finished the season knowing we had done well and the family was happy and thankful.