Local YMCA staff honored for saving a life

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 11:07 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Earlier this year, a routine life guarding class became a life or death situation for employees at the North Family YMCA in Davenport.

On Tuesday, January 28th, a Lifeguard class was held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the North Family YMCA. Bettendorf YMCA Aquatics Director Katie McGrane was helping run the class, when she noticed one of the participants, long-time Quad Cities teacher and coach Craig Kinzer, acting strangely.

“I had kind of noticed that something was off with coach, he wasn’t swimming his typical strokes,” said McGrane. “And he is an individual that swims every day at my pool. So I recognize him and I know him pretty well.”

During the last of three tests, swimming across the pool with a diving brick, Kinzer lost consciousness.

“The last thing I remember was having the brick on my chest, and then everything just went black,” said Kinzer. “That’s all I remember.”

McGrane, as well as the North Family YMCA Aquatics Director R.L. Aldridge, Downtown YMCA Aquatics Director Alex Vogel, and lifeguard Nathan Elbe, got Kinzer out of the pool and called 911.

When Kinzer’s breathing and pulse stopped, they began rounds of CPR and defibrillation.

“Complete adrenaline rush, something that you trained for for eight years that you hope that you never have to use, and you never think you’re really going to have to use,” said McGrane. “Because you train so diligently as a lifeguard, it just becomes instinct.”

After a successful resuscitation, Kinzer was transported to Genesis East. After a five day recovery and the insertion of a Pacemaker, he was back on his feet and soon, back in the pool.

“I’ve got my swimming up from two miles to three miles,” said Kinzer. “So I’m pretty much back to normal if there is normal for me.”

The four lifeguards were recognized at the Davenport City Council meeting on Wednesday, May 11th, where Kinzer helped present them with the Mayor’s Lifesaving Award.

“When somebody does something like that, to be able to stand here and be interviewed, and be able to walk my daughter down the aisle in September, that’s a big deal to me,” said Kinzer. “So those people need to be recognized.”

Kinzer says he also nominated them for the Governor’s Lifesaving Award, but was told they didn’t qualify because they’re professionally trained. He has also nominated them for an award from the Red Cross.

At the council meeting, officials said that medical professionals later classified the incident as a sudden cardiac death, and Kinzer’s cardiologist told him he would not have survived if the lifeguards had not taken action.

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