Lifeguards perform a different type of rescue, turn into firefighters for the day

Contributed photo.
Contributed photo. (Joint Base of San Antonio)

This was a group of lifeguards that indeed saved lives, just not nearly in the way they expected.

Instead of rescuing people from water near a pool, they turned into de facto firefighters back in September 2020.

On the morning of Sept. 20, a group of 12 lifeguards at the Joint Base of San Antonio were cleaning up the pool facility after it closed for the season when they noticed a plume of smoke in a nearby neighborhood, according to a release from the JBSA.

Taking immediate action and channeling their inner Usain Bolt, the group sprinted toward the neighborhood and found a house that was on fire.

Two members of the group, Maiah Kuzan and Dominic Mercado, called 911.


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Another member, Sam Landreth, ran to the man of the house, a husband and father of three girls, who was in the backyard unaware of what was going on.

Once alerted by Landreth, the father ran upstairs to alert his wife and daughters, so they could be escorted outside through the front door.

Another lifeguard, Matt Oakland, found a fire extinguisher and was helping put the flames out.

The fire had spread on the right side of the house and into a utility room.

While seeing the lifeguards in action, neighbors quickly ran to the scene and offered their help in extinguishing the blaze.

The group did such a good job that by the time firefighters arrived, there was little for them to do other than put out hot spots, according to Tech. Sgt. Joseph Tvrdy, acting assistant fire chief.

Other than vents leading into the attic, the damage inside was minimal.

“Thank God the lifeguards were there,” Tvrdy said in the release. “They really prevented a catastrophe from happening.”

Five of the 12 lifeguards, Kuzan, Landreth, Mercado, Oakland and Blake Mai, were honored for their leading roles in the rescue with coins recognizing their efforts during a JBSA staff meeting.


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