City Lifeguards Save Drowning Man at Orchard Beach

Orchard Beach Rescue Team, from left: City Lifeguards Julio Benjamin, Arlenne Suzana, Troy Washington holding AED, Andriy Kapys holding BVM, and Local 508 Borough Lifeguard Coordinator Neil Veloz.

BY DIANE S. WILLIAMS

A crew of five City Lifeguards rescued a Bronx man who collapsed in knee-deep water at Orchard Beach July 29.

“We saw him wade out and suddenly he collapse face down into the water,” said Lifeguard Supervisor Neil Veloz. “When we reached him and pulled him out, he had no pulse and wasn’t breathing.”

Lifeguards Andriy Kapys and Arlene Suvana pulled the victim, Joachin Rosado, 33, from the water. Immediately Lifeguards Julio Benjamin and Troy Washington began CPR to resuscitate Rosado. But when they used the defibrillator, “he had no shockable heart rhythm,” said Veloz.

Lifeguards began a cycle of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and used a Bag Valve Mask (BVM) to pump air into Rosado’s lungs. Soon they saw signs of life return even as the victim lay on a backboard semi-unconscious.

FDNY Paramedics in Local 2507 arrived in an all-terrain gator and rushed Rosado to a waiting ambulance that sped him to Jacobi Medical Center.
Doctors sedated the near-drowning victim and placed him in ICU in critical condition. Hooked to a ventilator and clinging to life, after three days Rosado gradually improved.

With 22 years as a Parks Dept. lifeguard, Veloz, who is the borough coordinator for Lifeguards, said he has made countless rescues. He checked on Rosado daily, calling doctors sometimes twice a day.

“I always check on our rescues,” Veloz said, “and I was relieved when the doctors said he was going to make it and has no apparent permanent damage.”
Seven days after nearly drowning, Joachin Rosado checked himself out of Jacobi. He phoned the Lifeguards at Orchard Beach to thank them for saving his life.

“This rescue was a success because of teamwork and all the advanced training and preparation the Parks Dept. gives City Lifeguards,” said Local 461 City Lifeguards President Franklyn Paige.

Above 90-degree temperatures drove huge crowds of New Yorkers to Orchard Beach and other public shores to seek relief from an intense heat wave the last week of July.

City Lifeguards in DC 37 Local 461 and Lifeguard Supervisors in Local 508 keep watch over tens of thousands of pool and beach goers each day during the summer months. Most City Lifeguards are seasonal Parks Dept. employees who work from Memorial Day through the first week of September.

This year the COVID-19 pandemic forced a delayed July 1 opening of city beaches and city pools opened July 23. The deadly virus also led Parks brass to add extra rescue training and protocols, like use of the BVM bag, Veloz explained, for Lifeguards to protect themselves against unnecessary exposure to coronavirus.

“In emergency events like this our training automatically kicks in,” Veloz said who quarterbacked the July 29 rescue. “It’s great to see these young Lifeguards spring into action and use everything we teach them in our daily drills become second nature to them.”

“We applaud the lifeguards who saved this man’s life,” said Local 508 President Peter Stein. “They are the youngest of our city’s unsung heroes of first responders. City Lifeguards and Supervisors are always ready to save and protect lives at public pools and beaches– even as the deadliest pandemic in our lifetime rages on.”

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