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Posted on: March 15, 2019

Parks and Recreation lifeguard, manager honored for saving child’s life


“Julian just pulled an unconscious victim out of the pool…”

Those are the words Faribault Aquatics Supervisor Kevin O’Brien heard through the phone last summer after a young child stepped into too deep of water at the Faribault Family Aquatic Center - a facility of the Faribault Parks and Recreation Department.

O’Brien knew his staff members were ready to take action when needed due to regular training and knowledge from lifeguard courses before being hired, but it didn’t make the phone call any less chilling.

As O’Brien hopped in his vehicle to return to the FFAC, where he had been not long before ensuring staff had all they needed to wrap up the remainder of the day, lifeguard Julian Meehl began providing care, alongside FFAC Manager Meghan Knutson, as fellow staff members called 911. Soon after Meehl and Knutson began the care, the child regained consciousness. They were soon joined by local first responders.

When O’Brien pulled into the the facility, the ambulance - the child inside, fully alert and breathing - headed for the hospital. The child made a full recovery.

“Their quick response saved a life,” said O’Brien. “And while they may have been the ones closest to the incident, they didn’t do it on their own.”

At the FFAC, the staff of 45 lifeguards and 25 guest service members go through regular trainings. O'Brien knows it’s this training that prepares them for the fact that on any given day, they may need to act.

“Every one of our staff would have done the same thing as Julian and Meghan without hesitating,” O’Brien added.

No matter who it was, O’Brien is just thankful for the happy ending.

As a result of their efforts on July 23, Meehl and Knutson were awarded Tuesday, March 12 with the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award - Red Cross’ highest award - in front of the Faribault City Council.

“I hope our staff never has to experience something like this again,” O’Brien said. “But the community should find comfort in knowing that if it’s needed, they’ll be there ready to respond.”

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