When I started my first summer as a lifeguard, I thought I might have the opportunity to help save someone at work. I had no idea that most of my training would be put to use on the way to and from work.
On my way to work at a water park in Mesa, Arizona, I found myself behind a van with a handicap symbol on the license plates and an elderly woman behind the wheel. I thought, “Great, I’m driving behind Grandma.”
I had been gaining on her and was about to pass her, when to my surprise she swerved off the road into the gravel. I was prompted to get off the road immediately. Many scriptures on the Holy Ghost speak of a “still small voice,” but in this case, it seemed to yell at me to pull over.
As I pulled up, the driver fell out of the van face first onto the rocks and didn’t move. I ran to her and gently rolled her over. She looked like she was about 65 years old. She was scratched, pale, and unconscious.
To the Rescue
I had my rescue pack on my hip ready for work, so I quickly put on my latex gloves and mask. She was not breathing, so I delivered two rescue breaths. Then I checked for a pulse. She had a pulse but still was not breathing, so I began rescue breathing. After five cycles, I again checked for a pulse and breathing. This time she had neither pulse nor breathing. This meant that I had to start CPR.
Doing CPR properly often means you will break ribs. I will never forget the sound her ribs made when they broke. My training and the Spirit helped me to remain calm and focused during this process. I then continued CPR for two minutes and checked for vital signs. Still no pulse or breathing. I ended up doing three more cycles of CPR before finally she began to cough. I helped her into the recovery position, and at that point I was able to dial 911.
Although we were on a very busy highway, no one stopped to offer assistance. While we waited for help to arrive, I discovered that she had blacked out and didn’t recall why she swerved off the road in the first place. I learned her name and that she was raising two of her grandchildren because their parents had died in a car crash. Finally, a sheriff’s deputy driving by stopped to see what the problem was, and he radioed for an ambulance.
A Police Escort
After the ambulance took her to the hospital, the officer, knowing that I was late for work, gave me a police escort—probably one of the only times those police lights might mean good things for me instead of a ticket. Driving home that afternoon, I thought about what had happened. I had acted like the Good Samaritan. I was the only one who pulled over and helped. I have learned from this experience that if you listen to the Holy Ghost, God can make you a powerful instrument in His hands.
Two weeks later I had another experience where the Spirit prepared me to help someone else. This time I was on the way home from work, driving behind a neon-green motorcycle. Suddenly I saw a large vehicle swerve across several lanes of traffic, going way too fast. The vehicle clipped the back tire of the motorcycle driving in front of me. While the vehicle swerved left and sped away, the man on the motorcycle went flying. He and his motorcycle rolled down the freeway, finally landing on the side of the road. I immediately pulled over to help. Three other cars also pulled over, but none of the adults seemed certain as to what to do. My training as both a lifeguard and an Eagle Scout kicked in, and, feeling guided by the Holy Ghost to be there at the right time, I took control of the situation. I told the other people to call 911 and assist me with the motorcycle rider.
Stop the Bleeding
The victim’s upper left arm had been impaled by a piece of metal tubing. He was bleeding profusely from this injury, and it was very gruesome. I had to get the bleeding stopped before he bled to death, but I didn’t have any bandages or gauze. Earlier in the day, before I had left for work, I had felt impressed to put a pocketknife in my truck. Because of this I was able to get my knife and use it to cut up my lifeguarding shirt to use as a bandage to stop the bleeding.
After the bleeding was controlled, I checked the victim’s breathing for 10 seconds. He was not breathing and did not have a pulse, so I started CPR. I did two rounds of CPR. Finally he started to cough. I tried to communicate with him, but he lost consciousness and stopped breathing. I completed two more rounds of rescue breathing and was on the third round when the paramedics arrived. The paramedics prepared him for transport. When the paramedics put the victim in the ambulance they said he was alive and stable.
It would be a cool ending to the story if I could say that I know that the man lived, but confidentiality laws prohibited me from finding out what happened to him. However, I once again went home with the knowledge that the Holy Ghost had guided me to be prepared to do my best to help someone in need.
Illustrations by Dilleen Marsh