A loud crashing sound from Oracle Road alarmed swimming students and lifeguards at the Catalina Recreation Center the morning of Wednesday, July 7.
"You don't hear that every day," said lifeguard Heather McRae, 17, a student at Canyon Del Oro High School.
All lifeguards on duty, with the exception of two who watched the pool, ran out to the scene dripping and shoeless. They found a small white pick-up truck had hit the rear of a tan Pontiac sedan at the corner of Oracle Road and Pinto Lane. The lifeguards quickly assessed the driver of the truck was not hurt, while a man and woman in the other car needed aid.
"We knew we had an obligation to help," said McRae. "Our initial reaction didn't matter, we just did what we needed to do."
"My children and I were very impressed with how (the lifeguards) quickly assessed the situation and were aiding the crash victims with rescue stretchers and other supplies from the pool," said Jenny Watson, whose daughter had swimming lessons at that time. "The police responded quickly, but it was the lifeguards that had the situation under control."
McRae said she and other lifeguards spoke with the man and woman in the Pontiac until they were able to get the woman out of the car and stabilize her.
The driver was stuck in the car. Lifeguards were able to access him through the back window, stabilizing his head until an ambulance arrived. He had suffered a broken knee and a possible broken collarbone.
"They heard the crash and reacted to it in the way that they were trained to do," said Grant Bourguet, supervisor of the lifeguards at the center. "It wasn't their accustomed site of a pool, but they are trained and responded appropriately. They went above and beyond what they are expected to do."
The lifeguards' assertiveness and quick response certainly left an impression on parents at the pool. "My children kept saying, 'Their feet must be burning up,' on the hot asphalt," said Watson. "But they did not stop their rescue efforts to think of themselves."
For the first-year lifeguards, it was an experience that confirmed their ability to use their training. "As a teenager I could have any job, but it was a nice sense of accomplishment that as a lifeguard I could help and I could do what I was trained to do," said McRae.
Watson complimented the young lifeguards, ranging from 17 to 25 years of age. "The community should be please to know that we have a very mature and well-trained staff at our community pool."