By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
Four City Lifeguards saved two drowning children from the waters of Manhattan Beach on August 24.
The rescue was among the most dramatic of the many acts of exemplary service that has resulted in a six-year safety record of no drownings or fatalities at any public beaches or city pools guarded by the Parks Department corps of first responders in DC 37 Locals 461 and 508.
“The emergency skills learned at the Municipal Life Guard Training School and their rapid response saved the lives of two young victims who otherwise may not have survived,” noted Peter Stein, president of Lifeguard Supervisors Local 508. “It’s very unfortunate that the Parks Department has failed to recognize these lifeguards for their heroism. It’s a shame and a huge oversight that the agency has not publicized the outstanding and unmatched safety record set by City Lifeguards and their supervisors.”
Sixteen-year-old lifeguard Nicolas Brillante, who attends Staten Island Tech High School, recently recalled the Manhattan Beach rescue.
He immediately signaled for help, ran into the chest-deep waves and grabbed the two small, seemingly-lifeless bodies. Lieutenant Lifeguard Daniel Levy raced along the jetty and helped pull them to safety. Lifeguard Olga Kolvalkova and Lieutenant Lifeguard Sharon Bethell aided in the rescue.
“The boys had no pulse. They weren’t breathing and were unconscious,” Brillante recalled.
The four began working to resuscitate the young boys, ages 5 and 6, at the shoreline. “Our training kicked in. I know that five minutes without breathing can leave a victim brain damaged. Ten minutes with no air the victim dies,” Brillante said.
Bethell used the defibrillator to revive the six-year-old. The four raced across the long stretch of sand carrying the small children on back boards to the promenade. She said, “We had to stop twice to perform CPR each time we lost the older child’s pulse.”
Police from Brooklyn’s 61st Precinct and Emergency Medical Services paramedics arrived and whisked the fragile victims to Coney Island Hospital. The six-year-old remained in intensive care for three weeks. Stein said doctors attributed the young victims’ survival to the lifeguards’ response at the scene. The children made a full recovery and were released in mid-September.
“These lifeguards fought to keep the two youngsters alive. This was a very close call,” said Franklyn Paige, president of City Lifeguards Local 461. “This positive outcome underscores the importance of our daily rescue drills and CPR training and the professionalism of our members.”
“We commend these DC 37 heroes who are part of the Parks Department’s corps of true first responders,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.