When the lifeguard whistles began sounding ten minutes before they were supposed to, Jacob Beach ’14 knew something was wrong.
Running out of the Upper Sandusky community pool house where he had been taking his break, Beach saw a commotion at the far side of the pool. A fellow lifeguard had just pulled a three-year-old boy from the water. Arriving at the scene, Beach could see that the boy was unconscious and looked like “a plump blueberry.” Another lifeguard had called 911 but it was clear this young boy could not wait for paramedics to give him medical attention.
It was at this moment that Beach remembered something from his experience in Boy Scouts. As young Tenderfoot Scouts, his troop members learned CPR for a merit badge and were told not to be afraid; that every second matters in a situation where they needed to perform CPR.
Beach, also an Eagle Scout (the highest rank in Boy Scouts) began to give the boy rescue breaths as another lifeguard performed chest compressions.
“After about 5-6 cycles we had the three-year-old start crying and coughing, one of the most relieving sounds I could have heard besides the sirens of the EMS who arrived just about 30 seconds later,” Beach said.
In his small town, the news traveled quickly. The mayor bought dinner for Beach and the three other lifeguards who were on duty. Parents, children and town officials praised them and congratulated them.
Beach said the experience was strange: seeing someone so close to death and knowing that his own actions were what could save the young boy’s life. He said thoughts of his own parents, and of the burden that would be on him as the child died, flashed through his mind as he began CPR. And he remembered what he heard the day at the merit badge session.
“I took those words to the pool that day and did just that,” said Beach. “I knew what I had to do and I did it.”