Texas Tech Students Fight to Save Man’s Life

Steven Lara, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross North Texas

For most, the prospect of handling an emergency medical situation can be nerve-racking. Faced with the weight of a life on your hands, every choice, right or wrong, is consequential.

Unfortunately, the potential for this scenario is all but real as Texas Tech University Aquatic center pool-goers experienced on June 26th, 2018 when a man lost consciousness under water. While it is not uncommon for the primal instinct of flight to take over, one group of students chose another path, to fight.

Texas Tech Aquatics staff Sean Pinal, Diego Silva and Sara Sustrick, were each honored with the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders for providing lifesaving action.

Award recipients Sara Sustrick, Diego Silva and Sean Pinal pose with their American Red Cross Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders.

Sean, a senior physics student at Texas Tech University, described his experience providing CPR on the man:

I was teaching a class, parent and me, a class the American Red Cross offers and we teach here. I looked across the pool and saw a guy being pulled out of the water by the dive pull…I hopped in and assumed responsibility for what was going on. We took his pulse and it was diminishing so I started CPR right then and there. I did CPR for six or seven minutes until EMS got here, and by the time they got there we had delivered a shock with the AED [Automated External Defibrillator] as well. So, we were already on top of it before EMS arrived.

A native of Houston, Sean had only been working at Texas Tech Aquatics for a year and a half when the incident took place. “I came to Lubbock, did a campus tour and fell in love with the school. I could see myself here.”

Fortunately for the victim, Sean and the rest of the Texas Tech University Aquatics team have received advanced training for just such occasion, though putting theory to practice in a real-time crisis can be daunting. “This guy was dying; there was no response and he was turning blue…Muscle memory just took over.”

About 3,500 Americans die from unintentional drowning. According to the American Heart Association, CPR, especially if administered immediately after cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

Photo taken from an American Red Cross lifeguard training drill.

The American Red Cross offers lifeguard training courses that include First Aid, CPR, and AED certification through a tradition, in-person (25 hours) or a Blended Learning (19.5 hours in person, 7.5 hours online) format.

In a pool, in your office, or on the sidewalk; in places and times we least expect it, life-threatening events happen. Often, the combination of knowing life-saving techniques like CPR and the willingness to act on your training like the Texas Tech Aquatics team, can make the difference between life and death.

Visit redcross.org/takeaclass to register for a lifesaving course near you.

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