Life-saving rescues in Orland Park, Chicago underscore importance of lifeguards amid shortage

Sarah Schulte Image
Tuesday, May 31, 2022
2 Memorial Day rescues underscore importance of lifeguards
Two lives saved at a waterpark in Orland Park and a Chicago beach underscore the importance of lifeguards as Chicago continues to experience a shortage of them.

ORLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Two life-saving rescues, one at a pool in Orland Park and another at a Chicago beach, underscored the importance of lifeguards and the seriousness of the lifeguard shortage this summer.

Orland Park's Centennial Park Aquatic Center was closed Tuesday for lifeguard in-service training and support following the rescue of a 10-year-old boy on Monday. He nearly drowned.

The water park was packed on a hot Memorial Day when Aubrey Zuniga said the whistles blew and everyone was told to get out of the water.

"Two lifeguards jumped in the water trying to see, and then me and my friend started walking away and we saw police cars pull up," she said.

The lifeguards jumped in to save a boy they saw unresponsive in the pool.

"They are trained to see distressed swimmers and they immediately went in and rescued child and performed all the necessary skills to save him," said Ray Piattoni, Orland Park Director of Aquatics.

The boy regained consciousness and was taken to the hospital. Piattoni said the 10-year-old is back in school today. The park opened for the season on Saturday.

Piattoni said lifeguards go through about 40 hours of training before they start the season.

"The village has worked hard to recruit and train these guards but it's then that do the work, we are proud of the staff," he said.

A 10-year-old girl was saved from drowning at 31st Street Beach in Chicago when a Chicago Park District lifeguard quickly sprang into action and performed life-saving CPR.

The girl was taken to a local hospital for treatment and is expected to be fine.

The Chicago Park District and the Village of Orland Park would not allow their hero lifeguards to be interviewed.