Feelings and thoughts of an NYC lifeguard during a rescue

A first-person account of a beach rescue. The US edition of the Wall Street Journal tells the story of two NYC Lifeguards dealing with an unconscious male swimmer face down in the water. One of the lifeguards was only 17 years old and new to the role; the other, more experienced, was in her ninth season of service. The article brings to life the emotions and state of mind that each of the lifeguards experienced, as they recounted the event during the award ceremony, which was also attended by the rescued man. They were both nominated “employee of the month” by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation in recognition of their “exceptional work”.


On 19th July 17-year-old Brianna Minogue was working as a lifeguard at Brighton Beach NYC when she noticed a man floating face down in the water. 33-year-old Brooklyn resident Dimitry Zhalkevich had had a seizure while swimming in the surf and was drowning in five feet of water. Brianna immediately swam out to rescue him.

It was an adrenaline rush,” Brianna said. “Everything in my brain shut off, except focusing on the man and doing what you’re trained to do. It all went very fast, but very slowly at the same time”.


The 17-year-old blew her whistle to attract other lifeguards and swam towards Zalkevich. Lifeguard Inez Zuska heard the emergency alarm and helped Brianna to bring the unfortunate surfer to shore.


 “He wasn’t breathing – said Zuska – and his heartbeat was weak. We started resuscitation procedures. On the second round of CRP the patient started to cough up water. It was just a miracle, amazing. After those first few emotional seconds I started to realise what had happened. But it was only after we found that that the man had survived that I felt ecstatic, on cloud nine”.


After three weeks in hospital Zalkevich was released in good shape. He returned to the ill-fated beach to thank the two for having given him a second chance at life. “This story – concluded Zalkevich – taught me a lot. Now If people ever need help with something, I’m always ready”.

You might also like