LAKEWOOD, Ohio – It started out as a day of fun in the sun at the Charles A. Foster pool in Lakewood, Ohio, last Thursday – but things quickly turned dangerous.
Lifeguard Jack Viglianco, 15, told WJW, "I heard like a 'Help, ah,' kind of thing. And I looked over and I saw a guy who's probably like 3 feet 6 inches, in the 4-foot water and gasping for air."
The victim was a 4-year-old boy at the pool for a summer camp field trip.
Viglianco said the young boy was bobbing up and down, screaming for help.
Not only was it Jack's first day on the job, it was only 20 minutes into his shift, when he had to put the lifesaving skills he had just learned to the test.
"Active drowners can still breathe, and they're still above water, but they are still in the act of drowning,” said Viglianco.
Lakewood aquatics manager Matt Demaline said, "Jack activated our emergency response plan. He got down off the chair and jumped in and helped the kid to safety. He had just completed ... a five-hour orientation the day before for all of our new and returning staff and we were ready to go, day one."
Lakewood’s aquatics department says the scary scene proved to be the perfect reminder to parents and caregivers about safety at the pool … knowing things can drastically take a turn for the worse in the blink of an eye.
"Never let them out of your sight," said grandmother Eileen McCray. "That's what I do with her, no matter where we're at or where we go, she can't go where I can't see her.”
As for Jack Viglianco, he says being a lifeguard is a passion and dream come true. His first day on the job, he says, is one he’ll never forget.
"I was realizing that I just saved a kid's life. And that is something not many other people can say. Nothing my friends have ever said."
Between Lakewood’s two public pools, WJW reports there were 42 lifesaving efforts in just the last two summers. All victims were saved, thanks to the well-trained lifeguards on duty.