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Teen Lifeguards Honored for Heroic Actions that Saved Woman's Life at Haines Community Pool

Michael Riccardi, Tyler Gaskill, Billy Garcia and Hae Mi Jung Honored for Heroic Actions at Town Pool Not Pictured: Hae Mi Jung Credits: Danielle Santola

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Four members of Livingston’s Haines Community Pool staff became vital in a rescue on July 14 that saved a Livingston woman’s life. The Livingston Township Council honored the four local heroes as well as the rest of the team, without which the rescue might not have been successful, at a council meeting on Monday.

Director of Senior, Youth and Leisure Services Jennifer Hessberger and Athletics and Aquatics Supervisor Ken Lomax joined Mayor Al Anthony and Township Manager Michele Meade in thanking Michael Riccardi, Tyler Gaskill, Billy Garcia and Hae Mi Jung for their heroic actions and honoring them each with a plaque.

“Each lifeguard on duty at the time acted professionally, responsibly and without hesitation,” said Hessberger. “We entrust our residents’ safety and lives to our aquatics staff—and from our aquatics staff to our pool managers and our lifeguards, I could not personally be prouder and more thankful for their professionalism and dedication.”

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Of the four lifeguards who were key players in this rescue, three of them are 16 years old and first-year lifeguards.

Each year, the Senior Youth and Leisure Services (SYLS) department hires nearly 100 lifeguargs to watch and protect the residents of Livingston and take the training extreamly seriously. Not only are the lifeguards required to be certified in order to work, but their training is also continued throught the summer with the hope that they will never had to use those skills, but to better prepare them for unplanned emergencies like the one that occurred on July 11.

New lifeguard Hae Mi Jung was on the stand near the slide at Haines Memorial Pool when she noticed a woman lying still at the bottom of the pool. After two failed attempts by Jung to get the woman’s attention using her whistle, nearby lifeguard Billy Garcia jumped in and removed the woman from the pool with the assistance of fellow lifeguards Tyler Gaskill and Michael Riccardi.

Garcia and Riccardi were not able to get a pulse and immediately began giving CPR, with Garcia giving compressions and Riccardi doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The remaining lifeguards simultaneously cleared to pool while office personnel called 9-1-1, maintained crowd control and provided police and first-aid responders with directions to the scene and access to the area.

Due to the efforts of the lifeguards, the victim was conscious and breathing on her own by the time police and first aid squad arrived.

The woman was then transported to Saint Barnabas Medical Center, where she remained for several days before being released. On Monday, Hessberger said she was happy to announce that the woman is healthy and back at the pool swimming once again.

Rich Shue, the pool manager on duty at the time at the time of the incident, noted how every staff member did exactly as they were trained and did everything possible in “textbook manner.”

“It’s not just the people that gave the CPR, it’s everybody involved in making sure that they were at the posts they were required to be at in the times when they were required to be and that everything worked according to the plan that they prepped time and time again,” said Meade. 

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