Two Aspen Recreation Center lifeguards were honored this week for saving the life of a child in the ARC pool.
Iuliia Mosenz and Trevor Triano both reacted immediately when a boy who was in the shallow end chased a ball into water that was above his head.
“This kid runs to a ball in the really deep water and gets more and more in trouble and he just goes under,” said Triano, recalling the incident before an award presentation at the Aspen City Council meeting Monday.
Monsenz was on break, wearing her street clothes, but that didn’t prevent her from reacting.
“I was in the office. I saw that situation so I just ran from the office and jumped,” she said.
“It was just action,” Triano said. “It was really cool that both of us jumped in so we solved it really quick.”
The pair were given the Red Cross Lifesaver Award signed by the organizations’ leaders. Eric Myers, the executive director of The American Red Cross of Western Colorado, attended the meeting to present the pair with their awards. He said that in his decade-long tenure he has only given out the award a handful of times.
“They are not incredibly common, and so to be able to take an opportunity to recognize the incredible work of Iuliia and Trevor is an honor,” Myers said.
The pair were given a standing ovation by the council and the mayor.
“This action exemplifies the highest degree of concern of one human being for another who is in distress,” Myers said.
Erin Hutchings, aquatics director for the city, told council that drowning is the leading cause of death for children under 5 years old.
“And so these guys, and what they do, their job is big,” Hutchings said.
Hutchings said every rescue is different in terms of debriefing the lifeguards and how much time they need before getting back to their shift. She said as a whole, the staff makes an effort to support one another.
“The team is the definition of a team,” Hutchings said. “Everybody just kind of takes care of each other.”
Though her staff undergoes rigorous training and certification, Hutchings said it is still ultimately the responsibility of the parent or guardian to be watching over young children who are not able to swim.
“[The lifeguards] can’t watch every individual person,” Hutchings said. “Just knowing the gravity of what they have to do, it helps people become more safe by understanding the threats when you are swimming.”
Lifeguards only have between 20 and 60 seconds to respond to a drowning incident, so it is important for all parents to stay vigilant, said Cory Vanderveen, director of recreation for the city.
“It really does take just a second,” said Vanderveen.
He praised Mosenz and Triano, along with the rest of his staff, whose roles are to interact with the public.
“The most important people are the front-line staff that get to work with the community, that get to really engage and keep them safe,” said Vanderveen. “They are the hard-working individuals that make this recreation department run and it’s nice that we get to take a moment to appreciate them.”