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Greencastle police, lifeguards recognized for saving man's life

October 01, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Wilbur "Wib" Bear usually started his daily swims with a quick comment to the lifeguards at Moss Spring Swim Club.

"Keep an eye on me," he'd say.

Today, the 83-year-old man remains unsure whether he'll get in the water again, but he returned to the pool Tuesday for a ceremony to recognize three lifeguards and two Greencastle police officers credited with rescuing him Aug. 23. Bear spoke through tears as he expressed thanks, especially for the teenaged lifeguards who pulled him from the pool and began CPR.

"I'm grateful for being alive," Bear said.

The lifelong Greencastle resident suffered a heart attack while swimming laps at approximately 3 p.m. that Saturday. Lifeguards Jeremy Lynch, Stephen Herman and Jesse Herman were supervising the pool at the time.

"Jeremy was out on duty at the time, and he jumped in the water," said Jesse, 17.

Jesse and Stephen ran from the office. Jesse and a pool member began CPR, while Stephen talked to 911 dispatchers.

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"I just relayed what happened," said Stephen, 15.

Greencastle police arrived and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to restore Bear's heartbeat. He said he remembers nothing from the time he went into the pool until he awoke in a Harrisburg, Pa., hospital days later.

"I'm glad he's all right. We had a lot of help," said Jesse, a Greencastle-Antrim High School student who was in his second year of lifeguarding.

Jeremy's mother remembers noticing her son was shaken when he came home that day. He showered, then agreed to tell her what happened.

"I was quite shocked to say the least," Jean Lynch said.

She said she is proud that her 18-year-old son kept calm and remembered his training.

"He's got a good head on his shoulders," Jean Lynch said.

Rick Mitchell, who presented the awards on behalf of Medic 2 Advanced Life Support, commended the lifeguards for quickly taking action, something he feels is remarkable considering their ages. He also thanked the police officers, Eric Kamoie and Mike Knechtel, for using their training and equipment effectively.

"Five people came together and saved the life of Mr. Bear," Mitchell said.

Jeremy, a senior at St. Maria Goretti High School in Hagerstown, hopes to attend Duquesne (Pa.) University. He worked as a lifeguard at the pool for three years. Stephen recently entered his sophomore year at Greencastle-Antrim High School and was in his first year as a lifeguard when the incident occurred.

All three teenagers said they had never experienced a rescue so serious before, but they said it will not detract them from lifeguarding in the future. Pool management said an AED has been ordered for the private swim club's future use.

Bear does not know whether he'll have the confidence to resume his swim routine, which has been a part of his life for many years.

"I'm the last original member of the pool," he said.

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