UC San Diego Celebrates Fast-Acting Heroes
It was an ordinary Sunday morning in July, when dispatch at UC San Diego Police Department received word that someone at the Canyonview Aquatic Center was in distress. Lifeguard staff on-site, Hannaford Bush and Kimberly Holland, were performing the life-saving technique of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and had used the automated external defibrillator (AED), which can restore a normal heart rhythm in victims of sudden cardiac arrest.
Bush, who is pursuing a master’s degree in climate science and policy, was one of the facility supervisors that day. When she heard someone had collapsed on the pool deck, she initiated the emergency action plan, served as the primary responder and started delivering compressions to the patron at the pool. Fellow aquatics staff called 911 and cleared the scene.
“When I started doing compressions, it was very much muscle memory at that point,” she said. “After thirty compressions I looked to my right and Kimberly was there with the rescue breath. I cannot describe the amount of relief I felt in that moment because I didn't have to do it alone.” Bush and Holland administered one shock with the AED, and continued CPR until they got a pulse.
The EMTs arrived at this point, preparing to deliver the man safely to the hospital. The aquatics staff worked as a team throughout. “I looked up and Tyler, Naomi and Lucia had cleared hundreds of people from the facility, and Amanda, who had called 911, had already taken the accident report,” Bush continued. “It was a terrifying scene to witness, so I also spent time speaking with the other pool patrons and answering their questions.”
Holland is a fourth-year student majoring in cognitive science. She recalled that Canyonview Aquatic Center was hosting a swimming event as part of the Transplant Games that day. “As lifeguards at UC San Diego, we are prepared, but it is a lot different doing it in training as compared to in-person,” she said. “We all fell into position and knew what to do. It was still scary, but I am grateful we were all there for each other and were able to do something to save another person’s life.”
Holland noted that aquatics director Jason Dillon and Bush are passionate about the training of the Canyonview Aquatic Center staff, and that, “Working here at the pool has made me realize just how important it is to be mindful of safety and what you can do to help in an emergency situation.”
Sergeant John Martin of the UC San Diego Police Department was the watch commander on the day of the incident. When he arrived, he knew right away the staff at the pool had demonstrated extraordinary teamwork and professionalism during this ordeal. Although he’s been in law enforcement for 30 years, what he saw upon arrival was stunning. “I was amazed by the level of organization. Everyone had the facts, knew exactly what needed to be done and their specific role,” he recalled. “You hope this never happens, but because of their practice and dedication, someone’s life was saved.”
Sergeant Martin pursued a nomination for Environment, Health and Safety’s (EH&S) Hero Award for Excellence, and Bush, Holland and the Canyonview Aquatic Center Staff were recently honored with the award at a poolside ceremony. Corey Singleton, director of EH&S at UC San Diego, shared that his team added the Hero Award for Excellence to their safety award program in 2017 to recognize UC San Diego faculty, staff and students for acts of courage and bravery. He also noted that, “Empowering people to take safety into their own hands before first responders arrive is key.”
“When someone maintains their composure in a stressful situation and potentially gives a person another shot at life, I think they truly are heroes,” reflected EH&S Emergency & Mission Continuity Manager Dismas Abelman, before starting the ceremony and handing out the awards.
“All of the people that I trained were competent in their skills and everyone did it so incredibly well,” beamed Bush. “I’m so impressed with my team, more than anything else.”
The Canyonview team will also be recognized with a Lifesaving Award from the American Red Cross.
UC System Recognizes Another Campus Hero
Yet another life was saved on campus recently, thanks to the actions of an officer with the UC San Diego Police Department. On a morning in October, Officer Roy Vicente was working patrol on the UC San Diego campus. He received a radio call of a possible overdose on the Central Campus trolley station. When Vicente arrived on the platform, he saw a man lying unconscious on the southern end of the platform.
The man was in distress—he had a pulse, but his breathing was labored and he was non-responsive. Based on information provided in the initial report, Vicente administered a single dose of Narcan, which is used for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose. As Vicente was about to administer a second dose of Narcan, paramedics arrived at the scene and administered the second dose.
While there was no immediate reaction to the second dose, when paramedics inserted an intravenous line into the man’s arm, he began to regain some consciousness as he was loaded into the ambulance for transport to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla for further medical treatment. The quick action taken by Officer Vicente prevented the patient’s condition from deteriorating, likely saving his life.
For his efforts, Vicente was recognized with the Lifesaving Award from the University of California system at a ceremony on campus this month. Nominees for this longstanding award are submitted to the Chiefs of Police of the ten UC campuses.
“I was not expecting this award, but it is a great honor to be recognized,” said Vicente. “I reverted back to my training. My actions that day would be the expectation for any police officer. We get a call and we respond.”
The event also celebrated the promotion of Scott Gustafson and John Smart to the rank of Lieutenant.
“One of the best parts of my job is when we get to recognize and acknowledge the work of our employees,” said UC San Diego Chief of Police Lamine Secka at the start of the ceremony. “Our goal is the safety of the whole community, and police officers at UC San Diego perform so many roles—everything from helping people who are locked out to saving lives.”
Lieutenant Gustafson has been in law enforcement since 1996, all of it with the UC San Diego Police Department. “I’m thankful for everybody who supported me, in the department and throughout the university,” he said, reflecting on his career at UC San Diego.
Lieutenant Smart started his career in law enforcement in 1998 as a University Safety Official on the UC San Diego campus, he then worked as a police officer with the Chula Vista Police Department before returning to UC San Diego. Smart has been honored with the Lifesaving Award from the UC system twice, in 2003 (this incident marked one of the first applications of AED on campus) and in 2010. On his promotion to Lieutenant he said, “I’m energized and looking forward to exploring how we can become better partners within our community.”
You May Also Like
Stay in the Know
Keep up with all the latest from UC San Diego. Subscribe to the newsletter today.