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 some of our Rescue Award of Merit heroes below.
Andy Simone was walking his dog on Lake Drive North, adjacent to the water on Cook’s Bay, near his Keswick home on October 6, 2019 when he heard a woman screaming. Andy ran towards the voice and found the distraught woman – she was staring at her friend, a male victim, who was lying motionless in the water approximately five metres from shore.
Andy didn’t hesitate to act. He jumped into the cold water, gained control of the victim’s body and towed him to shore while keeping his head above water. Andy suspected he may have suffered a head or neck injury, so he remained in the water and stabilized the victim’s head against his body to shield him from the force of the crashing waves, keeping as still as possible.
Emergency services arrived approximately 10 minutes later. The crew removed the victim from the water and took him to a hospital in Newmarket. He was then airlifted to Toronto for emergency surgery to fix his broken spine, and he eventually recovered.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Andy Simone on February 26, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario.
Sydney Baumgarten, Alexandra Schneider, Natalie Stewart – Collingwood
National Lifeguards and coworkers Sydney Baumgarten, Alexandra Schneider and Natalie Stewart were enjoying a day off jumping from the pier and swimming at the Thornbury Pier near Collingwood on July 28, 2019. It was a beautiful, hot and humid summer day. When they were back on the beach enjoying the sun and the view, Natalie noticed a man jump from the pier into the water, but he struggled to swim back to get out.
Natalie jumped up and alerted her friends. The three trained lifeguards moved with purpose and, naturally, knew exactly what to do. Natalie and Sydney entered the water and swam to the victim while Alexandra went to get a ring buoy. When Natalie reached the victim, she told him who she was and that she was there to help. Sydney was right beside her ready to assist or intervene. The girls guided the victim to the rocks where Alexandra was waiting to assist him from the water. He was grateful for the help but eager to leave the scene and, showing no signs of injury, went on his way.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Alexandra Schneider on February 26, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario.
Jake Cancade, Holly Richard – Toronto
Holly Richard and Jake Cancade were visiting family in Welland on July 4, 2018. It was a hot day, so they decided to go for a swim in the Welland Recreational Canal. They approached a small dock and noticed a large man in the water, shoulder deep, and curiously, strapped to the dock with an orange nylon strap. There was no one else around. Holly and Jake jumped in the water to swim, about 15 metres from the man. Soon after, they heard a “snap” – the man’s strap had broken and when they looked over, he was gesturing to them for help. They watched as he slipped into deep water and submerged. They recognized he was a non-swimmer.
Holly, a Lifesaving Instructor/Examiner, began swimming towards the man. Jake followed with a pool noodle and passed it to Holly as they approached. Holly saw that he was unthreatening and barely struggling, so she reached under the water, grabbed his arm and handed him the noodle. Holly and Jake pulled the man to the surface where he gasped in relief. He thanked his rescuers and promptly re-attached his strap to the dock to continue his “swim.” Holly and Jake kept an eye on him until he was ready to leave. Holly asked him if he had swallowed water or if he was hurt anywhere else, but he said he was fine. And he wasn’t showing any signs of critical incident stress.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Jake Cancade and Holly Richard on February 28, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario.
Caleb Dyck, Zachary Dyck, Nathanael Redecop – Aylmer
Caleb Dyck, Zachary Dyck and Nathanael Redecop were enjoying a day of swimming with friends at Otter Creek in Vienna, Ontario on June 17, 2018. Everyone was having a great time until one boy decided to swim across the creek to the opposite shore. He started complaining of leg cramps half way across, so his cousin went to help him. From afar, it appeared the boys might be wrestling, but Caleb and Nathanael quickly realized they were drowning.
Caleb, Zachary and Nathanael, who all held a Bronze Star certification, knew the situation was bad when one of the struggling boys stood on the other and screamed for help. The father of one of the boys also swam out – fully clothed – to try to help, but he was so tired when he reached them he began to black out and sink. Nathanael, Zach and Caleb sprang into action.
Caleb swam out to the father, swam under to get him, and assisted him back to shore while Nathanael assisted one of the boys. Another friend helped the second boy back to the land. Zachary, meanwhile, had secured a rope to assist everyone up the incline. Caleb, Zachary and Nathanael put all the victims in semi-prone position as two of the victims were vomiting from water aspiration. All the victims were taken to hospital for further examination and all three recovered.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Caleb Dyck, Zachary Dyck and Nathanael Redecop on February 28, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario.
Frank Kraljevic – Vaughan
Frank Kraljevic was working at Vaughan City Hall on July 9, 2018, when he was alerted to a downed man in a another area of the building. The victim had been feeling ill and collapsed unconscious to the floor. Staff in the area recognized the emergency, called 911 and began CPR.
Frank, an Aquatic Safety Inspector, arrived on scene and took control of the situation. After assessing the victim, he prepared the AED and delivered the first shock. Following the AED prompts, Frank continued with CPR. The unit advised another shock, which was delivered. At this point a fire prevention officer announced himself and offered to help. Frank directed him to continue CPR while Frank managed the growing number of bystanders. Frank confirmed the EMS call and ensured there were staff ready to meet the ambulance. He also called security for help to clear the area.
Meanwhile, the victim received a third shock, after which EMS arrived and took over. The victim was transported to hospital to recover.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Frank Kraljevic on February 28, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario.
Ashley Clark, Laura Karpouzis – St. Catharines
Ashley Clark and Laura Karpouzis were walking across the Brock University Campus on February 28, 2018, when they noticed a car had stopped suddenly while exiting the parking lot. The cars behind began to honk and go around. Suspecting something was wrong, Ashley and Laura approached the driver side of the car and peered in – the driver was shaking intensely, foaming at the mouth and breathing rapidly – she was having a seizure.
Ashley and Laura were confronted with a rare situation where they could not treat the victim directly. All the doors of the car were locked. So the rescuers – both of whom are Bronze Cross Examiners – began to manage the scene. Laura called EMS and campus security while Ashley proceeded to direct traffic around the car, which presented a great danger. Because the car was still in drive with the victim’s foot on the break, Ashley had pedestrians stay safely out of the way in case the victim’s foot moved. Meanwhile, Laura was on the phone with EMS, tracking the victim’s breathing rate and describing what was happening. The rescuers continued to manage this evolving scene and informed EMS and campus security until help arrived. The victim was removed from the car and taken to hospital where she recovered.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Ashley Clark and Laura Karpouzis on February 28, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario.
Alex Chu, Henry Hua – Thornhill
Alex Chu and Henry Hua were working at the Thornhill Community Centre on January 23, 2018, when they were called to the gymnasium where a downed man appeared to have had a cardiac arrest. The victim, a regular in the badminton program, had finished his session a few minutes prior to collapsing to the floor.
Bystanders called for the aquatic and fitness staff for help. Alex, a Lifesaving Society Examiner Mentor, and Henry, who holds Standard First Aid certification, arrived on scene promptly and assessed the situation. They ensured EMS was called and quickly grabbed a first aid kit and AED.
The victim had a faint but dissipating pulse. He presented with agonal breathing and was beginning to turn grey. Alex turned the victim onto his back and began chest compressions while Henry prepared the AED. Alex continued to do CPR for two cycles before the paramedics arrived and took over, eventually administering eight full shocks with the AED before taking the victim to hospital.
The victim was resuscitated at the hospital but remained in critical condition before succumbing to his injuries two days later.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Alex Chu on February 28, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario.
Navah Ball – Shanty Bay
Navah Ball and her friends were gathering at the main stage of a large, local music festival on July 28, 2017. In front of her, the large crowd began to move to the left and a clearing appeared through the centre. A circle began to form and she heard someone yell “we need a medic!”
Navah, a National Lifeguard, immediately ran to the circle to help. She found a young male victim unconscious and VSA, as well as a young male rescuer who had already begun compressions. Navah announced to him that she was trained in first aid and a lifeguard, and she was willing to help in any way needed. The two joined efforts and seamlessly began two-person CPR, with Navah on breaths. After the second breath the victim’s vital signs returned and he regained consciousness. They placed him in semi-prone position and monitored his vitals. Navah treated the confused victim for shock and reassured him that everything was all right and that help was on the way. A medical team arrived soon after and took over. As the victim was removed from the scene on a stretcher, Navah thanked her fellow rescuer.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Navah Ball on March 1, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario.
Harvinder Dhillon – Brampton
Harvinder Dhillon was in the basement of his home in June of 2017 when he heard his mother upstairs call for help. His grandfather, who wears a prosthetic leg, had just finished his daily walk and as he went to sit in his wheelchair, he fell back into the chair in obvious distress.
Harvinder, who holds the Society’s Standard First Aid certification, suspected a heart attack and immediately called 911. The dispatcher told him to get his grandfather out of his chair and onto the floor. This proved difficult, as the man was very heavy, and Harvinder’s mother was unable to assist. But Harvinder persevered and managed to get the man to the ground and begin CPR. His grandfather was breathing, albeit irregularly, and the dispatcher told Harvinder to put him in the recovery position. EMS arrived, took over CPR and took the victim to hospital where he underwent surgery for a heart attack.
Other problems arose after Harvinder’s grandfather was in hospital and the family eventually took him off life support. But thanks to Harvinder’s immediate intervention, he and his grandfather’s friends and loved ones were given the gift of time to say goodbyes.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Harvinder Dhillon on March 1, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario.
Tiffany Gallant, Manuela Terre Sanchez – Brantford
Manuela Terre Sanchez, a Lifesaving Instructor, was off duty and leaving for the day after her shift at the Valley Park Recreation Centre in Stoney Creek on May 1, 2017. Then she heard the facility alarm go off. She ran to the gym where she found a crowd of people hovering around a male victim – face down and in obvious distress. Nobody was doing anything. Manuela yelled for help in rolling the victim face up. She told a staff member to call 911 and told a patron to go and get the aquatic staff.
Tiffany Gallant, a Lifesaving Society Examiner, was off duty in the guard office when the frantic patron arrived to ask her to come to the gym to help. Tiffany notified her staff and raced to the scene. She arrived at the gym and she and Manuela were both relieved to see each other – Manuela looks up to Tiffany, and Tiffany knew Manuela would be an excellent rescue partner in this terrifying situation. Tiffany determined that the victim was VSA and began CPR with Manuela. Tiffany gave 30 compressions and Manuela gave two breaths. The rescuers continued CPR until firefighters arrived and took over.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Tiffany Gallant and Manuela Terre Sanchez on March 1, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario.
Aaron Huinink – Stoney Creek
Aaron Huinink was out cycling to celebrate the completion of his final high school exam on June 21, 2017. As he rode east along Haldibrook Road past Highway 6 in Caledonia, Aaron noticed a few cars pulled over by a house. As he got closer, Aaron could see a woman lying on the driveway. He got off his bike and ran over.
Aaron, a Lifesaving Instructor, introduced himself as a lifeguard trained in first aid. The victim had been hit by a car while riding her scooter. Aaron knelt down to assess if the victim was responsive and breathing – she wasn’t. He began compressions and when it came time to give breaths, he punched a hole in a plastic bag and used it as an improvised barrier because the victim had blood in her mouth. He struggled to create a seal using the bag but continued compressions. By the third cycle, he had EMS on the speaker of a bystander’s phone; the dispatcher told him to continue compressions and not worry about breaths. After more than 10 cycles, EMS arrived and took over. Aaron then went over to the distraught driver of the car who hit the victim to treat her for shock and to help comfort her. Aaron was at the scene for two hours, where the victim eventually succumbed to multiple injuries.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Aaron Huinink on March 1, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario.
Stavros Lalos – Niagara-on-the-Lake
Pool supervisor Stavros Lalos was setting up lane ropes late one Friday evening in July at his home pool in Niagara-on-the-Lake, when he was alerted to a downed man on the adjacent soccer field. Stavros looked out at the field and he saw the crowd of soccer players gathered at the scene. He grabbed the AED from the wall and rushed over to help.
Stavros, a Lifesaving Instructor and student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, found the 57-year-old victim without vitals and not breathing. One bystander unpacked the AED while Stavros directed the distraught onlookers to take action: he had someone get 911 on the phone and directed someone else to go watch for and direct the ambulance.
Stavros, with help from a school friend, applied the AED and followed the prompts to give one shock and do compressions, which they did immediately. Then the AED advised a second shock, which restored the victim’s pulse. By the time paramedics arrived the victim was breathing. They took him to hospital where he eventually recovered. Stavros was back at the pool Monday morning teaching lifeguarding and first aid. The emergency only solidified his desire to become an emergency room doctor.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to Stavros Lalos on March 1, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Lifesaving Society presented its Rescue Award of Merit to this group of City of Toronto staff on March 2, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario.