Off-duty teen lifeguard leads heroic rescue of drowning man at Surrey’s popular Crescent Beach.
An off-duty lifeguard and several bystanders have saved a young man from drowning at Surrey’s Crescent Beach, underscoring how quickly and quietly inexperienced swimmers can succumb to currents and a steep drop-off at the popular swimming spot.
Around 7:30 p.m. on Tues., Aug. 16, beachgoers saw a man slowly slapping the water awkwardly and silently coming up for air in the roped-off area patrolled daily by the Crescent Beach Life Guarding Corporation (CBLG) lifeguards from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. More than a dozen people stood on the beach watching his movements for more than two minutes before one of them asked his nearby sister to swim closer to check if he had gone unconscious.
After his sister confirmed he was unconscious, she and two other women helped drag him to shore before off-duty lifeguard Emma Baecker, a 19-year-old who was coaching a paddleboard lesson on the nearby dock, swam over and began doing chest compressions on the man. Ms. Baecker identified herself as a lifeguard and led the rescue effort on the man, who was foaming at the mouth and at one point was revived only to stumble back into the water again.
Local firefighters arrived minutes later and the man was soon transported to hospital, where he was discharged days later.
Ms. Baecker, who is in her second year of guarding at Crescent Beach, said the incident proves how dangerous the swimming area is when unguarded at night and in the early morning. That’s because the sea floor drops off into the nearby boat channel and there is often a fierce ocean current that brings the tide in and out of Boundary Bay twice each day.
Katie Brook, a social worker who was one of the two women who helped the drowning man’s sister drag him out of the water, said the off-duty lifeguard’s expertise and leadership helped save the victim’s life.
“She did an excellent job in that situation,” Ms. Brook told the CBLG. “She obviously knew what she was doing and went through the steps.”
Ms. Brook says she is a lifelong boater trained in first aid but she – and the group of others standing on shore that evening – still didn’t recognize the man’s initial actions as drowning.
“I think I probably had an unrealistic conception of what drowning looked like. Part of me thought they’d be screaming or calling for help. I would have thought that it would look more frantic and that’s why we didn’t think he was drowning. It almost looked like some strange creative exercise,” she told the CBLG.
Ms. Baecker said “if you are ever unsure about someone’s safety in the water go approach them as soon as possible. Just ask them ‘Hey, are you doing good?'” she said. Including this rescue, lifeguards have pulled 9 people out of the water this summer, according to CBLG records.
ABOUT CRESCENT BEACH LIFEGUARDS
The non-for-profit Crescent Beach Life Guarding Corporation (CBLG) has been providing contract waterfront lifeguarding services to the City of Surrey since the summer of 1997. The lifeguards are responsible for two swimming areas – one north of Sullivan Point with a sailing dock and one south that reveals sand bars at low tide. Lifeguards are on duty from 11 am to 7 pm all summer, wrapping up on Labour Day. Most CBLG staff are post-secondary students and all must have current waterfront lifeguard, first aid, and boating certifications. The management of CBLG is overseen by a committee of volunteers, most of whom are former Crescent Beach lifeguards.
MEDIA CONTACT – Ms. Baecker is not available for interviews, but CBLG Committee head Morgan Brewster can be reached at email@example.com or on his cell at 778.989.2739