EAST PROVIDENCE — There are times when Regan Jeffrey heads to work and asks himself, “If there’s some type of emergency, how would I respond?”
The lifeguard discovered that answer at about 2 p.m., Tuesday, when he saved an unconscious 11-year-old boy from drowning in the deep end of the Boys & Girls Club of East Providence pool.
“You just never know what’s going to come your way,” grinned Jeffrey, a 20-year-old junior-to-be at Rhode Island College who has been employed by the city’s Parks & Recreation Department for three years now. “When I come to the pool, I think, ‘Am I ready if something happens?’ Looking back at it, I reacted just the way I wanted to. I didn’t hesitate. I just dove in and let instinct take over.”
According to Alba Curti, the interim Parks & Recreation Director, 61 children — including 48 from the Pierce Athletic Complex playground and another 13 from Silver Spring — had been in the five-lane, 25-yard pool that afternoon to cool off from the summer heat.
Swimming with those youngsters were five camp counselors — among them Stephanie Perez, Kyle Croke and Stephanie Gomes — as is required by the department. Standing on the deck were Jeffrey and another lifeguard, one employed by the Boys & Girls Club.
Jeffrey stated the boy, city resident Joshua Adewusi, had passed the “deep end test,” meaning he was more than skilled to swim in that section.
“I saw him go under the water, by lanes 3 and 4, and I think when he touched the bottom, he kind of panicked,” Jeffrey explained. “I think he thought, ‘Wow, I’m deep!’ I gave him a second, but then I knew something was wrong, so I pulled off my shirt, grabbed a lifeguard tube and dove in.
“When I brought him to the surface, he wasn’t breathing; his lips and tongue were blue, and that’s when I thought, ‘Perform CPR — now!”
He said a camp counselor helped him pull Adewusi up the ladder on the far side of the pool, and immediately asked someone to call “9-1-1.” He gave the boy 30 chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth, which completes a full cycle of cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
“He coughed up some water, and I just took a huge sigh of relief,” Jeffrey stated. “I was a little worried because I had heard of other (area) drownings recently, but I wasn’t thinking negatively, either.”
Curti indicated police arrived at the scene about two minutes after the call, and a rescue unit seconds later. Rescue personnel immediately placed a mask on the boy, who was breathing and responsive, then transported him to Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
While the boy was receiving CPR, other counselors cleared the pool of the children, Jeffrey said, and “were great” at keeping everyone calm.
“I’ve heard that the boy actually went home that night, and that he was doing fine,” he said. “I’m very thankful for that.”
When asked if he considers himself a hero, as others do, Jeffrey just said, “I was just doing my job. I’ve had Boys & Girls Club officials come up and tell me, ‘That’s great! You should be proud.’ But my response was the same, ‘It’s my job.’”
Sullivan said she employs five lifeguards within her recreation department during the summer, and wasn’t surprised that one of them would react so quickly during an emergency situation.
“Regan is an outstanding young man who is very serious about his job,” she offered. “He’s a terrific young person, and a fine example to all of us … I know he doesn’t consider himself a hero; that’s how he feels, that’s his job to keep an eye on swimmers.
“I just thank God he was there,” she added. “I know he told someone that he was honored to perform the rescue. He didn’t feel anyone was indebted to him, but he was indebted to the people he was there to protect. The kid is so humble.”
Smiled Jeffrey, the son of Richard and Susan Jeffrey of East Providence: “I just can’t believe it all happened. It’s amazing to me. I’m just glad the boy’s OK. I’ve been contacted by his mom, and I told her I’m going to pay them a visit soon.”