An Open Letter to the Lifeguard Who Saved A Little Boy

Dear Lifeguard,

I don’t know your name, and I’m guessing that you are about high school age. I witnessed you in action the other day as you saved a little boy from drowning at Lake Elmo beach. I want you to know how proud I am of you and your efforts. I know it’s your “job” but it’s also your worst fear. No one can ever have enough training to prepare you for what this moment will actually feel like, but because of you, this little boy is home playing with his family today.

I saw the entire episode play out, in what felt like slow motion. I was sitting on a bench across the water from you with my friends, while their children played in the water. I remember noticing you taking off your shorts and saying to my friends “why the heck is she taking off her shorts?” It was then that I realized you were grabbing your rescue device and heading into the water. My friend (who is lifeguard certified herself) and I noticed at that moment the little boy’s head bobbing. He couldn’t have been more than two years old and appeared to be alone in the water.


You got to him, put your floatation device around him, and swam him back to shore. We could see his body was limp as you carried him out of the water and laid him on the beach. At this point I remember saying “why on earth aren’t the other lifeguards clearing the water?” They hadn’t even seen what was happening yet.

You started doing compressions on the little boys chest, that is when we knew it was a bad situation. My friend and her husband are both CPR and First Aid certified so they immediately decided to go offer you their support. As they walked away, I picked up my phone and dialed 911.

When my friends reached you and asked if you needed help, you looked them in the eye and said “Yes!” For that, I give you huge kudos. You may have been frightened and felt out of your league in the situation, but you were willing to accept help from those who could give it.

I was on the phone with the dispatcher for almost a full two minutes before the other lifeguards noticed and cleared the pool. By this point, my friends were walking back towards me and the little boy was sitting up with his mother by his side. The Sheriff was pulling in (thanks to my 911 call) and the other lifeguards were now there to assist you.

You appeared shaken as you walked away, as anyone would be. This is why I want you to know how proud of you I am. Had you been a few seconds later, this story could have ended quite differently. You were alert and aware of what was going on in the water, responsible for watching what I’m guessing was a couple hundred kids at the time. I’m not sure if this is your first rescue or not, it doesn’t matter. What you did was heroic and I applaud you.

I believe there were some lifeguard protocols that weren’t followed in this situation as a whole, but because of you and your actions, a little boy and his family are happily together today.

Amy Zellmer

Amy is an author, professional photographer and creative business coach located in Saint Paul, MN. She is also a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post & a TBI survivor. She recently published her first book: "Life With a Traumatic Brain Injury: Finding the Road Back to Normal".

She has an obsession with Starbucks coffee, Miss Me jeans, and all things glittery and sparkly. She enjoys traveling the country with her eight pound Yorkie named Pixxie, and instagrams her journeys.