STUDENT Jessica Herzer acted swiftly when she came to the aid of a swimmer on the brink of drowning in a Northam swimming pool.
The former lifeguard was one of 20 individuals to receive a Royal Life Saving Bravery gold star award on Wednesday morning at a Government House ceremony attended by WA Governor Kerry Sanderson.
Jessica worked as a lifeguard last summer after completing her education at Cunderdin Agricultural College.
“I was the only lifeguard on duty at the time when a swimmer from the local detention centre suffered cramp,” she said.
“He was clearly distressed and splashing around.”
The quick-acting teenager threw him a floater and ran to his aid as fellow swimmers swam towards him.
“I kept reassuring him and after he was helped out of the pool I gave him towels to keep him warm and continued reassuring him,” she said.
The 18-year-old said she had swimming lessons at primary school and later trained for a bronze medallion and star.
To continue working as a lifeguard, the bronze medallion requires renewal annually.
Jessica began a degree course in agri-business management at Muresk Institute earlier this year, having developed an interest in farm life while growing up on a smallholding in Irishtown.
“I guess the experience has proved I can stay calm in dealing with the unexpected,” she said.
The Royal Life Saving Society of WA accepts nominations for the bravery awards throughout the year to identify people who have taken extraordinary actions to save another person’s life.
Chief executive Peter Leaversuch said each award recipient displayed exceptional courage, empathy and initiative by applying lifesaving skills in an emergency.
“The bravery and commitment of these individuals in saving lives is an excellent example to all West Australians and deserves our highest recognition,” he said.
He said it was important to obtain lifesaving skills.
“As we approach another summer, I encourage everyone to think about how they might in their own way make a contribution to drowning prevention and saving lives,” he said.
“It may be to improve your own skills in CPR, first aid or rescue, to raise awareness among your family, friends or workplace, or to help someone in need.”