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Barksdale lifeguards save life of young boy

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Megan M. Tracy
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
"It was my first day on the job -- No one thinks something like this would happen. All I saw was him sinking."

This is how Kasey Schluter recalls the day she and fellow lifeguard Jacob Navarro saved the life of a 7-year-old boy at Barksdale's North Pool summer kick-off bash May 28.
"We noticed a little boy swimming under the water and we were watching him because we thought maybe he couldn't hold his breath very long," said Ms. Schluter. "After a couple of seconds of swimming under the water, he sank to the bottom. I didn't even have time for a second thought, I jumped in and pulled him out."

After Ms. Schluter pulled the boy out of the water, she checked his vital signs and quickly realized that he had no pulse and wasn't breathing. Something had to be done fast if the little boy was going to live. Immediately, Ms. Schluter and her partner, Mr. Navarro, started performing CPR.

"When I saw her pull him out, I ran right over there to help with CPR," said Mr. Navarro. "I told Kasey to do compressions and I gave him breaths. We did two cycles of that and after the second cycle, I gave him two more breaths and he started making a noise and I knew he was trying to breath."

When they rolled the little boy onto his side in the recovery position, they noticed there was food in his mouth. Mr. Navarro took two fingers and started scooping out the food to help clear his airway.

"I had him in the recovery position for at least five minutes," said Mr. Navarro. "A pediatric nurse came over and helped as best she could. We basically were scooping out food and holding him in the recovery position until the paramedics got there."

Thanks to these two lifeguard's calm professionalism and training, the 7-year-old boy lived. Although Mr. Navarro and Ms. Schluter had only met once before, the training they received at the Shreveport American Red Cross made it possible for them to work together.

"It felt good knowing you can trust the person next to you," Mr. Navarro said. "Knowing that they've had the exact same training, that we're on the same page and knew what to do; it helps us to trust in our fellow lifeguards. An event like this brings us closer as a lifeguard family."

Lifeguards go through a five-day course where they are taught lifeguard training, become CPR certified and learn first-aid techniques. In class, the trainees learn how to react to situations alone and with partners. The training class was especially important for Ms. Schluter because May 28 was the very first day she ever sat in the chair as a lifeguard.

"It was totally unexpected," Ms. Schluter said. "I was trained very well at the Red Cross and they really prepared me for the job I did that day."

Although the lifeguards say, "I'm just doing my job," many people have taken the time to recognize their heroic efforts, including Col. Steven Basham, 2nd Bomb Wing commander, who presented Ms. Schluter with his coin.

"I'm very honored to have been recognized," Ms. Schluter said. "We were just doing what we're trained to do. I'm just glad the boy is all right."

The parents of the lifeguards say they're not surprised by the actions of their children.

"When he [Jacob] told us about it, we were concerned about the little boy and were relieved to find out he was going to be fine," said Jacob's father, Les Navarro, Eighth Air Force strategic mission planner. "I was really proud of Jacob. As a parent, you're always proud of your kids when they do good things. Saving someone's life wasn't a good thing, it was a great thing. I can't say I was surprised because I know he's got the training, but I was proud of him for applying it."

Ms. Schluter's father, Maj. John Schluter, Air Force Global Strike Command Standardization and Evaluation, says his daughter decided to become a lifeguard to earn money for college and she has always excelled in everything she has done, including being a lifeguard.

"I'm very humbled by her [Kasey's] actions and extremely proud of how she handled herself during a very difficult and time-critical situation," he said. "Not many people can say they have saved a life, but to do it on your first shift and within the first 30 minutes of assuming duty is amazing. This is a testament to Kasey and the training she has received through the Red Cross training program."

Margie Tackett, a family child care coordinator, was at the pool when the lifeguards pulled the boy from the pool. She said she is grateful knowing her children will be watched closely while swimming on base.

"I left that night feeling very confident in the lifeguards and staff," said Mrs. Tackett. "Being the mother of six boys, I have experienced many base pools in over 26 years of Air Force life and this was the most professional and well-trained group of swimming pool staff that I have seen."