She's a lifesaver

City Park rescuer earns national honor

City Park rescuer earns national honor

October 01, 2002|by TARA REILLY

American Red Cross volunteer Karen Meinelschmidt said Monday night people stood and watched as a quadriplegic man in a wheelchair rolled backwards down a hill and into the pond at Hagerstown City Park on July 21.

If it weren't for the efforts of a nearby trained lifeguard and swimming instructor, she said the man, Michael High, might have drowned.

"People were afraid to get their feet wet," Meinelschmidt said.

Meinelschmidt said the instructor, Stephanie Snyder, ran to High's aid and jumped in the pond after him.

She then used live-saving skills she learned from a Red Cross Health and Safety course to assist High until emergency crews arrived.


For her actions, the Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross awarded Snyder, 26, an American Red Cross Certificate of Merit.

It was the first time the local chapter has awarded the certificate since the award's inception in 1911.

"It's a difficult thing to do," Meinelschmidt said of Snyder's efforts. "Especially when you're sitting on a rock and sliding into slime. It's not often that we get someone to do these kinds of things."

The presentation was made at the chapter's 85th Annual Meeting and Volunteer Recognition Dinner at the Williamsport Volunteer Fire Co.'s Banquet Hall.

Snyder's certificate is signed by President Bush.

Kim Buchanan, director of health and safety for the local chapter, said the awards are hard to come by, because the national chapter must approve them.

"They just don't give these to everyone," Buchanan said. "We had to prove to national that she did deserve this."

Buchanan said the chapter convinced officials at national headquarters to award Snyder the certificate, in part by sending them newspaper articles of the incident and police reports.

She also said Snyder received three medals and a citation.

Snyder, who thanked the Red Cross for teaching her the life-saving skills, also thanked her sister, Jackie Snyder, for assisting in her efforts to help High.

Stephanie Snyder said her sister called 911 and watched her children while she helped High.

"It enabled me to help the gentleman successfully," Stephanie Snyder said. "Without her, I wouldn't be able to do what I did."

Snyder then gave her sister a rose.

Meinelschmidt, the Red Cross's aquatics director, said she trained Stephanie Snyder and has known her for 10 years.

She now works for Meinelschmidt at the Richard A. Henson Family YMCA teaching children to swim, Meinelschmidt said.

"She's a very conscientious person," Meinelschmidt said. "She knows what she's doing."

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