Rescue Award of Merit

The Lifesaving Society's Rescue Award of Merit may be awarded to Lifesaving Society award holders for aquatic or non-aquatic rescues. Non-award holders may be eligible, but only for water-related rescues. Lifeguards and instructors who perform rescues in the course of their employment are not normally eligible.

The criteria for deciding whether to recognize an individual include:

  • ability to recognize the emergency
  • willingness to intervene
  • evidence of good judgment

Neither the outcome (successful or not) nor the degree of risk involved are criteria in the decision. Timeliness is an issue. Normally, recognition is only given within 24 months of the rescue.

Send a written nomination (PDF version / Word version) outlining the facts to the Society's office. Include information concerning when, where and under what circumstances the rescue occurred; what the rescuer (or others) did; the correct name, address and telephone number of the nominee(s).

Once approved, the Rescue Award of Merit certificate and a citation are prepared. Normally, we look for a public presentation opportunity like the Society's Annual Meeting, a school assembly, town or city council meeting.

Rescue Award of Merit recipients embody the Lifesaving Society's motto - Whomsoever you see in distress, recognize in them a fellow human being. / Quemqunque miserum videris hominem scias

Read about our most recent Rescue Award of Merit heroes below.

Dale Johnson - Etobicoke

Dale Johnson was in her car at a stop sign on April 21, 2016 when another car bumped into her from behind. Uninjured, she turned off her car and got out to see what damage had been done. That’s when she noticed the driver of the car that hit her was having a seizure.

Dale, a National Lifeguard, quickly approached the car. The victim had fluid coming out of his mouth and had his head back. The person in the passenger seat of the car was in panic. Because the door was locked, Dale motioned to the passenger to turn the car off and open the doors. She instructed the passenger to call 911 while she tended to the victim. At this point she realized that both the passenger and victim were former swimming students of hers. She kept the victim sitting up and stable by putting her arm across him to keep him still, monitoring and talking to him until help arrived.

As the seizure subsided, the victim recognized Dale and slowly regained coherence. Other bystanders stopped to offer help, too, but Dale had things under control. An emergency crew arrived and took over care. Dale is grateful that it was her car he drove into.


Dale Johnson

The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Dale Johnson on March 2, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario.

Haley Dejaegher – Tillsonburg

On March 15, 2016, Haley Dejaegher was attempting to relax near the splash pad on a cruise ship. The scene was chaotic and there were no lifesaving staff on duty. Children were running wildly using the waterslide dangerously, and the entire area was wet causing passengers and staff to slip. After several complaints a caution sign was put up, but an hour later, Haley heard a thump.

Haley, a Lifesaving Instructor, had witnessed a young boy fall backwards and hit his head. While his parents got busy panicking, Haley calmly walked over and introduced herself: “Hi, my name is Haley. I’m a lifeguard from Canada, can I help you?” The boy’s relieved parents backed off while Haley used a trap squeeze to stabilize him and she helped him to calm his breathing. Thankfully the boy could wiggle his toes and fingers, so Haley suspected a concussion. She had the cruise ship director, now on the scene, go and get dry towels and ice. When the director told Haley that a wheelchair was on its way she adamantly said “no!” The boy was complaining about his back and head hurting so if he was going anywhere it would be on a spineboard, she declared. Haley spoke to the boy and kept him calm until a spineboard arrived, although there was still only one trained staff member on scene capable of providing adequate care. It turned out Haley was correct – the boy had suffered a concussion. He fully recovered and he and his parents were thankful for Haley’s help.


Haley Dejaegher

The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Haley Dejaegher on March 2, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario.

Judy Rupert – Etobicoke

Judy Rupert, a first aid attendant at George Brown College, was in her office on November 7, 2016 when a staff member came in to alert her that a student had collapsed in one of the school bathrooms.

Judy, a Standard First Aid Examiner, grabbed her trauma bag and oxygen tank while another staff member went for the AED. When she arrived on scene the victim was on the floor. She assessed him and found he was VSA. Judy started CPR and enlisted help from a security guard. She attached the AED and administered one round of shocks, and then continued CPR. EMS arrived on the scene soon after and took over care. By this time the victim had begun breathing again on his own – he’d suffered a cardiac arrest and was transported to hospital.


Judy Rupert

The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Judy Rupert on March 2, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario.

Constable Greg Fletcher – Port Elgin

Off-duty Saugeen Shores Police Service Constable Greg Fletcher was on the beach with his wife at Gobles Grove on July 26, 2016 in Port Elgin, when he noticed three teen siblings playing on an inflatable toy approximately 100 metres from shore. The offshore winds were typically strong and sure enough, one boy became separated from the others and began drifting down the beach, swimming then resting while trying to right his course. When he missed grabbing onto the rope that designated the swim area, Greg knew he was in serious trouble.

Greg, a former National Lifeguard, got up and swam out to the struggling victim. “I’m tired,” the teen said to him. Greg told the victim that he was going to grab onto him and that he shouldn’t try to grab back. Greg towed him in until he could touch bottom, helped the victim to shore and brought him over to his mother, who was unaware that there was even a problem. Greg told her to try and get the other teens to come in but sure enough, before she could get their attention, the inflatable toy blew away, and even though one of the youths was able to retrieve it, Greg had seen enough – he called water rescue to assist. But before the emergency crew arrived, Greg watched the two teens struggle and separate once again. He borrowed a boogie board and swam out to assist them back to shore.


Greg Fletcher

The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Greg Fletcher on March 2, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario.

Riley Gunter – Tweed

Riley Gunter was with friends on June 24, 2016 at the Vanderwater Conservation Area in Thomasburg, enjoying the summer weather and having fun jumping from the bridge into the Moira River. Riley was climbing out of the water when he heard a call for help – one of his friends had just made the jump, but he hit the water awkwardly and rose to the surface in significant pain and in dire need of assistance.

Riley, a National Lifeguard, immediately swam out to help while another friend called 911. The victim seemed able to keep himself at the surface but couldn’t swim forwards. Riley recognized that the victim had something wrong with his leg and when he towed him to the rocky shore, he knew it would be too difficult for him to climb out. The victim had broken his femur, so instead of having him try to walk, Riley talked to him and kept him calm until the emergency crew arrived to assist and take him to hospital.


Riley Gunter 2017

The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Riley Gunter on March 2, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario.

Meaghan England, Kashyap Gosai, James Honeyman, Gordon Leask, Erik Stoeckl, Stacey Unira, Maranda Williams – Toronto

On June 30, 2016 Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff from the City of Toronto gathered for an inter-city soccer game at Cherry Beach Sports Fields. It was a hot and sunny day in the city. At half time, as players stopped to rest, they heard calls for “911” from the opposite end of the field.

Team members Meaghan England, Kashyap Gosai, James Honeyman, Gordon Leask, Erik Stoeckl, Stacey Unira and Maranda Williams ran to offer assistance. They found the downed victim on his side, unconscious and without a pulse. The team worked quickly, turning the victim over and beginning breaths and compressions. After a few rounds of CPR the victim resumed breathing and pushed the rescuers away. But his breaths were agonal and he stopped breathing again. This continued for around 15 minutes, with the victim starting and stopping breathing three times. EMS arrived, took over CPR and used an AED to administer shocks before transporting the victim to hospital where he made a full recovery after receiving three more stents in his heart – he already had two from a previous heart attack.


Toronto Group 2017

The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to this group of City of Toronto staff on March 2, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario.