Two Matanuska-Susitna Borough lifeguards led the effort to save a man’s life with great help from morning swimmers at the Palmer Pool before 6:30 am on Oct. 26.
Mat-Su Recreation and Library Services Manager Hugh Leslie said his hat goes off to the pool staff and to the morning patrons.
“Our lifeguards have saved three lives in recent years at the pools. These aren’t active splash drownings. They are hidden medical conditions that happen to occur at the pool. Our staff has shown again that they know what to do, and in this case the swimmers in the water were very much a part of the response, for which we are grateful,” Leslie said.
Sandra Lee, Water Safety Instructor II, jumped in the water after a lap swimmer alerted her to an unresponsive man on his back. This male swimmer in his 60s is a regular who often floated on his back, but this time he was unconscious and not breathing. Lifeguard Lehvi Minder called 911.
A group effort went into action. Swimmers and lifeguard placed the backboard and pulled the unconscious swimmer out of the pool onto the deck. Lee took over from a swimmer who had been giving rescue breaths and began administering CPR.
The morning swimmers helped a great deal, Lee wrote. She recalls yelling out requests and items appeared as requested, including the AED, automated external defibrillator. “I asked for towels to get him dried off, and they used their own towels,” Lee wrote.
A patron helped press the AED button as directed. A patron took over responding to questions on the 911 call. Three people administered CPR, a swimmer, Lee, and Minder throughout the response.
A week after the incident, the swimmer stopped into the pool in Palmer to thank the lifeguards on his way home from the hospital.
“Lehvi and I were very happy to see he was out of the hospital and headed home,” Lee said.