By Mary Owen
Three employees of the Stayton Family Memorial Pool will receive life-saving citations from the American Red Cross this month.
“We’re lucky in this community to have people so well trained looking over us at the pool,” said Jack Burnett, president of Stayton Friends of the Pool. “We’re very proud of what they did. They did an awesome job!”
Lifeguard Jacob Rothrock of Mill City, lifeguard Aleya Hill of Stayton, and Billie Hight-Maurer, former aquatic director, of Aumsville, helped save the life of Michael Hefner of Stayton last June 23.
Rothrock responded to a whistle from Hill, the lifeguard on duty, who saw Hefner lose consciousness and start to slip under the water.
Rothrock, Hill and Hight-Maurer removed Hefner from the water while Kathy Ellis called 911. At that time, Hefner was not breathing and had no pulse. CPR was performed and the automated external defibrillator was deployed but not used.
“He didn’t show signs of life until the paramedics arrived,” Hight-Maurer said of the approximately 12-minute time lapse.
“We train for CPR all the time, but it’s different when you actually have to do it. For Aleya and I, everything we practiced just kicked in.”
Members of the Stayton Fire District, Stayton Police Department and Santiam Ambulance arrived at the scene and took over Hefner’s care. He was then transported to the hospital where he was placed into the ICU, having suffered cardiac arrest at the pool. Hefner recovered and contacted his rescuers to thank them for their “quick, professional response,” the Red Cross reported.
“Preparation for this type of emergency is continuous and on-going for the lifeguards, and the hope is they will never need to use their training,” Red Cross offcials said.
Hight-Maurer indicated at the time of the incident that she believed it was the first time CPR was needed at the Stayton Family Memorial Pool.
“I have never heard of it being used there before in a full-on code situation,” Hight-Maurer.
“We were pretty jazzed” about being able to save a life, she said, adding all three were doing their jobs, and the rescue all came together.
“We’re just happy he’s alive,” she said. “The fact that he walked into the building and said ‘thank you’ is better than any award!”
For their actions, the trio will be awarded the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award, one of the highest awards given by ARC to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Preparedness and Health and Safety Services course. The certificate bears the signature of the president and CEO as well as the chairman of the American Red Cross.
The citations will be presented at a ceremony and celebration Friday, March 17, 3-6 p.m. at the Stayton Community Center.