Lifeguard Justin Elder said after rescuing a man from a pool, Sunday, July 21, is a day he’ll never forget.
The 20-year-old was part of a three-person team that revived the Roslyn Pines Swim and Tennis Club patron in time for him to head to the hospital and get a pacemaker.
“When I first started CPR he looked gone,” said lifeguard Darin Frank. “I had never seen something like that.”
Elder was the lifeguard on duty, scanning the pool as usual, when he heard a woman scream for help. Her husband, 77-year-old Lyle Freeman, whom Elder had seen enter the lap lane just minutes before, had sunken to the bottom of the pool, face down.
Elder blew the whistle three times before diving in, warning his team of the emergency. He pulled Freeman out, carefully holding his head in case of a spinal injury, and two other lifeguards rushed over to perform CPR.
Freeman had no pulse and his skin was blue, they said. Frank, 23, performed the chest compressions and Timothy Pecoraro, 22, supplied the breaths. During the third round, Freeman began to cough.
Sometime during the event, a pool patron called 911.
Pool manager Sam Stern said he’d never seen anything like it – he’s seen rescues but never thought someone was going to die. It was the first time Frank had ever saved someone’s life, and he co-runs a CPR training business.
About a week later, Freeman returned to the pool with a newly installed pacemaker and thanked the young men who rescued him. He had no memory of the near drowning, they said.
“He had the biggest smile on his face,” Pecoraro recalled.
Elder and Pecoraro recently took exams to become police officers, Elder in Suffolk County and Pecoraro for the New York Police Department. Saving a life reaffirmed Elder’s confidence in joining the academy, he said.
“Now I know I can react in a situation where my training will be able to kick in,” he said.
That was the first thing he thought when he saw Freeman at the bottom of the pool, Elder said: it was the moment he had trained for.
“It wasn’t fear, it was confidence,” he said. “I had trust in our team.”
Frank’s business, which he co-owns with Elder’s brother, trains individuals in first aid, CPR and lifeguarding.
“If you’re just CPR certified, that’s so huge,” he said. “You could see a person on the street passed out you know what to do. You’re certified to do it.”
“It could have happened anywhere,” Elder said.