For 16-year-old Justin Krause, a lifeguard at the Iola-Scandinavia Community Fitness and Aquatic Center (ISCFAC), his training has definitely paid off.
Christmas vacation started out just like any other for the Ogdensburg teen, with family and friends visiting for the holiday.
As lunch time approached, his parents Derek and Denise went upstairs to prepare the meal; Derek’s job was to carve the turkey and the ham.
“Derek was sneaking pieces of turkey while he was carving,” said Denise. “Then he walked off to the restroom.”
After several minutes, when he did not return, Denise knew something was wrong and went to look for her husband.
She found him choking.
“I tried to do the Heimlich maneuver, but being smaller, I could not get a good grip,” Denise said. “So I ran downstairs to get help.”
Justin recalled hearing his mother’s scream that his dad was choking.
“At that moment I don’t even know what went through my head I just acted,” he said. “I jumped up, raced up the stairs, flew into the bathroom and started the Heimlich.”
With about three thrusts he was able to dislodge the piece of turkey.
Justin gives credit to the ISCFAC for the training he received as part of his lifeguard class.
“I was trained by Mallorie Oppor, who is a building supervisor and Jackie Barrett, who trains lifeguards at South Park in Waupaca,” he said.
Tim Welch, Director of the ISCFAC, praised Justin for what he did.
“I am proud that Justin could step in and help out,” said Welch. “First aid and CPR training really can be a lifelong skill. You need to practice but some simple precautions and new knowledge you develop can help you or someone you love in an emergency situation.”
Welch noted that the facility offers lifeguard training in-services on a monthly basis.
“This allows lifeguards and staff members a chance to practice emergency situations and to ask questions and refresh skills,” said Welch. “We work on large and small emergencies during our in-services. We all plan on an individual’s training taking over when they need it.”
Justin believes that his training made him confident that he could help. But he also admits that the thought of using his skills on a family member never crossed my mind.
“I didn’t think I would have to,” he said.
Derek now looks at Justin as a hero.
“I feel extremely grateful for what Justin did,” said Derek. ” I was not able to dislodge the piece of turkey by myself up to that point and his actions were swift and correct. You can’t help but feel so proud of your son when he reacts in such a profound way.”
Derek felt badly for Justin as well.
“I feel sorry that he was put in that situation and had to see his father like that,” he said.
Justin seems to take in all in stride.
“I don’t think I am a hero,” he said. “I just did what needed to be done.”
Derek reflected for a moment on the day.
*When an event like this happens, you appreciate those around you more,” he said. “It makes you think about how quickly life can change and to be thankful for what you have. So many of the things we spend energy on seem so silly and small. I want to be a better person because of it.”
All those involved would recommend to others to get trained in basic first aid.
“I would encourage everyone to have some type of first aid training,” said Derek. “Ideally you would never have to use it, but you may find yourself in a situation where you are the only one trained or available to provide assistance to someone in need.”
“You never know when that training, just might save a loved one’s life,” he said.