An off-duty teen lifeguard is being credited with saving the life of a drowning man at Crescent Beach in South Surrey.
According to a release from the Crescent Beach Life Guarding Corporation (CBLG) the incident occurred around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16 when several beach-goers witnessed a man “slowly slapping the water awkwardly and silently coming up for air in the roped-off area” of the water. Because the area is patrolled by lifeguards only until 7 p.m. each day, there was no one on duty at the time.
The man’s sister was nearby and alerted by a bystander. The sister then swam closer to her brother and found him unconscious. With the help of two other women, she was able to drag her brother to shore, CBLG explained in the release.
That is when off-duty lifeguard Emma Baecker, 19, saw what was going on from a paddle-board lesson she was teaching nearby. Baecker swam over and began performing chest compressions on the man.
He “was foaming at the mouth and at one point was revived only to stumble back into the water again,” CBLG stated.
Local firefighters responded to the incident minutes later and the man was taken to hospital. He was discharged days later.
Baecker sees the incident as proof as to how dangerous that area of the beach can be outside patrol-hours, especially earlier in the morning and later at night. There is a significant drop-off and a strong ocean current in and out of Boundary Bay twice each day, she said.
Katie Brook was one of the women who assisted in pulling the man out of the water. She credits Baecker as integral in saving the man’s life.
“She obviously knew what she was doing and went through the steps,” Brook said in a statement shared by CBLG.
“I probably had an unrealistic conception of what drowning looked like. Part of me thought they’d be screaming or calling for help. I would have thought that it would look more frantic and that’s why we didn’t think he was drowning. It almost looked like some strange creative exercise.”
Baecker shared how important it is to be aware of others’ safety around the water and always check-in to make sure people are OK if there is any concern.
According to its website, the Crescent Beach Life Guarding Corporation has provided lifeguard services to the City of Surrey since 1997. Lifeguards are on duty from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. all summer, wrapping up on Labour Day, the site notes.