Lifesaving Lifeguards

“If they wouldn’t have done what they did and known how to do it, they would have been planning my funeral and I would have been dead and buried a year ago.”
-Craig Kinzer

Friday, Jan. 28, 2022 is a day Craig Kinzer will never forget. It is the day his life could have ended, had it not been for the quick actions of four lifeguards.

Craig was finishing up a drill as part of a lifeguarding course at a YMCA in Davenport, Iowa when he lost consciousness while in the swimming pool. Craig would later learn that he had suffered sudden cardiac death.

That’s when the lifeguards did exactly what they are trained to do.

Katie McGrane immediately jumped in the water and pulled Craig out of the pool, then checked for a pulse. CPR was administered to Craig on the pool deck.

As a team, the four lifeguards worked to restore Craig’s pulse. They spent approximately 30 minutes performing CPR, then paramedics took over and ultimately, Craig was stabilized and then released from the hospital after just five days.

Katie credits her lifeguard training with preparing her to be ready to act at that moment, when help was needed the most.

“It’s not if, it’s when, and if you aren’t trained, you won’t be ready when it happens. I think everybody should be trained to some level in CPR. If you can, become a lifeguard, because you do truly save lives.”
-Katie McGrane

Craig credits the lifeguards with doing just that, saving his life. He is grateful for the experiences he’s had this past year, and what he is looking forward to in the future.

“My daughter got married in September, so, I got to walk her down the aisle. I’m expecting my first grandchild in June, so if it weren’t for those four and the paramedics, I wouldn’t be around to enjoy that stuff,” said Craig.

Craig recently had the opportunity to present a Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action to each of the lifeguards on behalf of the American Red Cross, during a ceremony in their honor at the YMCA where they helped save his life.

“I got a little choked up, because he is a human being. To be able to provide a second lease on life for that human being is a big deal for me,” said Katie. “When I get to see him and talk to him and hear his daughter is expecting and see the wedding photos with him and his daughter, that is the greatest award and that’s very fulfilling.”

Thank you to all four lifeguards for their lifesaving actions! Visit to get the skills and knowledge to help save someone’s life.

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen

Heroic Actions to Help Save a Life: Sasha’s Story

Sasha-Welch Moore’s heroic actions helped save a life. She performed CPR on a man at her gym in Peoria who had stopped breathing. As a result, the man survived and continues to have an opportunity to live his life.

Sasha is one of our valued team members here in the Illinois region. Recently, we had the honor of presenting her with the Certificate of Merit, the highest award given by the Red Cross, for her lifesaving efforts – Red Cross Illinois Region CEO, Celena Roldán presented the award to Sasha during a staff retreat. Congratulations and thank you, Sasha!

Visit to sign up for a CPR training class.

Nanny Saves a Life With Infant CPR: “Training Turns Helplessness Into a Fighting Chance”

Health and Safety Stock ImagesLynn Lindquist took a pediatric first aid class so she could be a good nanny to six-month-old Jack.

One day Jack was feeding himself pieces of watermelon when he began choking. Lynn allowed Jack to cough at first, but when his breathing became labored she snatched him from the high chair, and turned him over to start the back blow maneuver she learned from her American Red Cross instructor. The piece dislodged and Lynn was relieved to hear Jack cry. A few calming breaths and many hugs later, Jack was happy and giggling again.

“The steps drilled by our instructor, Ed, kicked in when I needed them,” said Lynn. “Red Cross CPR training turns helplessness into a fighting chance. You need to be able to do the best you can for children.”

Lynn is one of many child care providers who have completed a Red Cross class in the Chicago region who would agree infant first aid is a vital skill to know. Even with constant supervision, babies can choke on food or a small toy. They can slip under water in a bathtub or a shallow pool. Infant CPR training ensures you’re prepared, like Lynn was for baby Jack.

“The thing about learning CPR skills from the Red Cross is that it prepares you to act without over thinking it,” she said. “It’ll give you courage to act when you might not have the confidence to help someone in need.”

CPR uses chest compressions and rescue breaths so oxygen-rich blood circulates through the brain and other vital organs until emergency medical personnel arrive.

Lynn encourages everyone to take a Red Cross CPR class to be prepared to help save a life of any age. The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago offers a variety of First Aid/CPR/AED courses and safety tips. Visit for more information.

Written by: Amisha Sud, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

Being Prepared 221 Miles Offshore

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany types of emergencies can occur on an offshore oil rig, which is why Dan Workman’s employer requires him to be CPR and First Aid certified.

Dan works on a rig in the Gulf of Mexico located 221 miles offshore. For the past four years he has commuted from Palos Hills, Illinois to Texas to work three-week shifts on the rig. Dan has been re-certified several times now and says the training has definitely proved useful.

“When my co-workers get minor cuts and can’t help themselves, I bandage them up,” he said.

Dan has also witnessed more severe injuries. During one of his shifts, a fallen crane crushed a coworker’s pelvis and injured his leg. There’s a medic onboard to respond to emergency situations, but ensuring every worker is trained and prepared is vital. Dan has also been involved with the Red Cross blood services for many years by donating blood while in school and deployed in the military.

As a regular blood donor and knowing how to perform First Aid, Dan is prepared to save lives.

Story and photo by Kamryn McPike

Check, Call, Care

“Check, Call, Care,” says the teacher as she begins class with the first lesson in CPR. “Check, Call, Care,” notes the nurses, athletic trainers and lifeguards that make up the 11 students in the class. “Check, Call, Care,” is or will become an everyday phrase for most of the people in this class.

The class is made up of professional rescuers and healthcare providers and many are looking to re-new their CPR certifications. Getting re-certified for some is just a mandatory precaution but for others, like Sylvia Ceebin, it brings back memories that make her thankful for her skills.

“I have been a nurse for close to 35 yrs and people say ‘Oh you’re use to it’ and I don’t think you’re ever use to it,” said Sylvia.

While sitting in the professional rescuers training course at the American Red Cross, Greater Chicago Region, Sylvia remembers her past and how she has used her CPR training before. As a nurse she told us she has performed CPR many times in the hospital but when asked to share her story, she recalls two sad instances when she had to use CPR outside of the hospital.

Sylvia remembers her first story from 10-15 years ago, being summoned from the clinic she was working at, to help a woman in the building around the corner. The woman, diagnosed with African Trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, was thought to have fallen asleep at her desk but officemates could not wake her up. As Sylvia and her colleagues arrived, they began to work on the woman but something was wrong.

“It was weird giving her CPR. Luckily we had a doctor with us but I think the worst part was she was long gone before we started the care,” reflected Sylvia sadly.

As her second story unfolds, Sylvia starts with some chilling advice, “It’s good to know your surroundings.”

About three years ago Sylvia was working at a company for healthcare in a building downtown doing flu shots for employees. All of a sudden a security guard came down from a board room upstairs and said that someone was having a diabetic reaction and had slumped over during a meeting. Luckily Sylvia was there that day to help because no one else knew what to do.

“I started CPR and someone grabbed the defibrillator. Sadly he didn’t make it, but I guess it reinforced knowing these skills and since I was new to the building it was lucky that other people knew where the AEDs were,” said Sylvia.

Today Sylvia works for the Water Reclamation for Cook County and helps out by informing people about CPR as a safety coordinator. She said she has talked to many different people and is surprised by how many people use these skills daily.

The American Red Cross offers many different classes that can help prepare you for any situation. Be prepared like Sylvia and sign up for a class today!

 Written by Dana Morones

It’s Never Too Late to Learn CPR

When I first learned CPR, it wasn’t for anything special. It was for a job. I wanted to spend my summer outside, wear sunglasses, get the occasional glimpse of a girl my age in a swimsuit. I wanted my summer to be more like an 80s movie than work. I applied to be a lifeguard.

The CPR hardly seemed important. It was just a hoop I had to jump through to make my summer vacation ideal. Of course, I got lucky—I never had to perform CPR on a real person. That’s what I dreaded every morning when I woke up. That, and the more likely issue of having to get in the frigid water before the pool even opened for business.

I like to think I was ready if an accident did happen, but I never thought about the possibility that someone close to me would need emergency treatment.

Nancy, however, learned CPR for that very reason. I met her at a Red Cross First Aid and CPR class a few weeks ago. Even in her sixties, she’s beaming with more life than anyone in the class. I can imagine her reading a children’s book aloud to a captivated audience of little kids, or crossing the street with them, hand-in-hand—so it’s no surprise when she tells me she runs a day care. It’s no stretch of the imagination to think that she shows the same compassion for her husband, Ernest, or anyone else for that matter. Through large gold-rimmed glasses, she tells me about herself, and when she laughs, her whole body laughs with her.

After Ernest’s third heart attack, Nancy thought it was time she learned to respond in case tragedy struck again. She’s grateful that Ernest has made it this far, and she’s not leaving it up to chance anymore. She’s already lost too many people close to her.

When Nancy was 16, she fell in love with a young man named Robert, who she soon married. When he was 40, Robert was diagnosed with diabetes, and few years later, he suffered a heart attack. He made it to the hospital in time for the medical professionals to save him, but a few days later, complications from the diabetes took his life.

Nancy later remarried, to Willie. He had an enlarged heart, and at 44 he suffered a cardiac arrest that happened so quickly the ambulance didn’t even make it to the house in time to save him.

Several years later, Nancy met Ernest, and married him soon after. He’s 72 now, and he’s had three heart attacks and three heart surgeries. The most recent attack started with some chest pain. Ernest knew after the first two that this was a bad sign, and he headed straight for Metro South Medical Center. While sitting in the patient room, speaking to a nurse, Ernest collapsed—flat-lined. The staff responded immediately, and brought his heartbeat back. But that was too close for Nancy. She vowed to learn CPR in case an emergency like this happens again.

I spoke to Nancy again a few days after the class. When I called, I could hear the bustle of children at “Nancy’s Day Care” in the background. I imagined her there on the phone, still beaming—kids frolicking around her Chicago home, maybe one on her lap. She said that every morning now she wakes up and practices the CPR and First Aid she learned. She wants to be prepared in case one of these kids needs emergency care, too.

To find a CPR and First Aid class in your area, visit

Written by: Jonathan Bressler

CPR Can Save Lives: Be Prepared at All Times

With temperatures rising and summer season around the corner more people are having heated-related illnesses. If you saw someone pass out at your workplace, in the mall, at dinner, or in a parking lot, would you come to their rescue? The better question is would you know what to do in a situation like this? It’s not just a matter of caring or having a heart to serve others, but the important part is being confident in knowing what you’re doing.

That’s why Tanya Corona-Garza, Rebecca Christy, and Courtney Shimenetto took a CPR/AED Adult and Child Plus class last week at the Chicago Red Cross Chapter. They wanted to walk out of the classroom confident they could save a person’s life if the emergency occurred. A majority of the people who attend these classes go because they need certification or recertification for their jobs, but they all have different professions: nanny, stay at home mother, consultant, student, etc. No matter what profession you hold, knowing how to be prepared for emergencies is important, especially when it involves learning how to save a life.

A quarter of a million people in Chicago take a CPR class that’s administered by the Red Cross. But only 5% of emergencies that occur are reported. The people who come to this CPR class, take it, so that they do not fall into the 5% category.

The Red Cross instructor stated that most people who get their training in this CPR class usually walk out confidently knowing they can save someone’s life. Those who are prepared have a better outcome in an emergency situation.

Upon completing the class, you’re certified for two years. I believe what helps so many people retain the information that they learn is through the interactive and hands-on assignments the instructors walk them through.

A brief overview of what is covered:
•Participants go through booklets and pamphlets
•Watch video series on the importance of CPR and demonstrations on what to do in different scenarios
•Go over the steps of having a kit, making a plan, and being informed when in the house and on the go
•Learned techniques of how to be protected when coming in contact with someone who’s bleeding
•Using a breathing barrier and plastic gloves to prevent disease transmission
•Recognizing and caring for cardiac emergencies
•Practice on mannequins for a child and adult on how to assist a conscious and unconscious person

Attending a CPR class can not only benefit you, but benefit others you encounter on a daily basis whether it’s a neighbor, relative, parent, or child. More than 300,000 deaths are caused by cardiac arrest in the U.S. So knowing what to do in case of an emergency can reduce the number of deaths. Emergency care is now coming to you at the palm of your hands through an American Red Cross app that we have designed with Dr. OZ.

To listen to the audio story along with photos, click on this link:

Life Happens, Learn CPR

You enter your favorite French bistro with your friends on a Saturday night and are quickly seated at a quaint table right next to a window with a fabulous view of Chicago nightlife. Your waitress pours you a glass of water and gives you a few minutes to look at the menu while she runs to the back room to find your group a bottle of wine. Your best friend cracks a joke about the man across the room that looks like George Clooney and everyone at the table bursts out laughing. All of sudden, a man at the table next to yours collapses head first into his walnut salad. Everyone in the restaurant realizes that the man needs help but no one is trained in CPR. Your table watches in horror, unable to assist in anyway but to flag down a waiter and call 9-1-1. Later, you learn that the man did not survive.

Many may think that the probability of something like this occurring is relatively unlikely, but it was a reality for Nicholas Swain. While catering an event, a man collapsed and died before the ambulance was able to get to the location which was only a couple of blocks away from a hospital. Nicholas and his coworkers from Blue Plate, a catering company, decided to take the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago CPR course to be prepared for this type of incident.

CPR and First Aid are life saving skills that everyone young or old should have, because emergency incidents can occur at any time. On March 19th the Red Cross’s Save-A-Life event offered free CPR and First Aid classes throughout the nation. The event was in honor of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head during a congressional rally in Tucson, Arizona. After the initial hit, her intern Daniel Hernandez provided first aid assistance and saved her life.

On Save-A-Life Saturday more than 11,000 individuals were trained. Like Nicholas and his colleagues, they also realized the importance of being prepared.

Nicholas and the catering staff come into contact with a variety of people and the probability of an incident where the use of CPR for emergency assistance is high. When working in the hospitality industry being able to perform CPR and the Heimlich maneuver can safe a life. According to a report conducted by the Center for Disease Control in the U.S. 60% of choking in children ages 0-14 was related to food. Food related choking incidents can occur anywhere from the home to a restaurant. It is important for restaurant, catering, and other hospitality industry staff to be able to perform procedures such as the Heimlich to prevent choking.

Being prepared can save lives, whether it is from learning how to prevent a fire to rescue support through CPR, the key is to be prepared. We encourage everyone to take a CPR class and to visit the prepared section on our website .

Take action and learn CPR like Nicholas, his co-workers at Blue Plate, and the 11,000people who dedicated their time on Save-A-Life Saturday. Next time a person starts choking or collapses it may be up to you to save their life. Be ready. Be prepared.

Written By: Lauren Snyder and Erica Serna

Time to Perform CPR on Mad Men…

In preparation for last night’s Season 4 opener, I took some time to recap the past few seasons of Mad Men. I realized that more often than not, Red Cross training could have helped these intriguing characters as they found themselves in unusual and sometimes ridiculous situations. (BEWARE: If you aren’t caught up on Mad Men there are SPOILERS in this!)

Let’s begin with Season 1 – audiences are introduced to Helen Bishop, a divorcee with two children who is new to the Ossining neighborhood. Betty Draper, being the good neighbor that she is, kindly agrees to help Helen by babysitting her young son. Unfortunately for Betty, things went terribly wrong. I’m sure Betty wishes she would have enrolled in our Babysitter’s Bootcamp before taking on this endeavor where she would have learned about the importance of leadership and professionalism; safety and safe play; and first aid.
Still looking at Season 1, Roger Sterling, a partner and known womanizer at Sterling and Cooper, is up late partying with his co-worker Don Draper and suffers a massive heart attack. Don Draper must have been kicking himself and thinking, “If only I had taken a CPR/AED training course, I would have the lifesaving skills needed to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and use an automated external defibrillator (AED).”
You don’t even want to get me started on last season, when Lois decided to take a John Deere tractor around the office for a joy ride. If Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce had provided First Aid training to their employees, they all would have been prepared to provide emergency assistance to the poor guy who lost his foot.

This really got me thinking – although accidents like these are far and few between, they may occur and I know that when they do, I have the training necessary to respond.

posted by: Rachael Garcia, Resource Development

How to Celebrate National CPR/AED Week

As we welcome summer back for another year we must remember to be proactive in summer safety. Here at the Red Cross we take safety very seriously. Whether you choose to celebrate summer by a pool, or on a running trail, we hope that you take advantage of our educational course.

The Red Cross offers an online CPR/AED (Automated External Defibrillation) class. This online version offers the convenience of learning in your own home and setting your own pace .

In lieu of National CPR/AED week the Red Cross of Chicago is offering a discount on their popular CPR class. Just visit our website at enter the code: CPRAEDWEEK to receive 15% off the cost.