Saving a life earns citation for two PJPII students

Story By Christine Bordelon, Clarion Herald
Photo By Patrick Carroll

Last summer, as lifeguards at the Slidell Community Pool, Patrick Kelly and Patrick Carroll saved the life of a young boy.

“He basically didn’t have a pulse, and we brought him back to life,” said Kelly, a current senior at Pope John Paul II High School in Slidell.

“There was an incident, and we were there to respond, and a child’s life was saved,” said Carroll, who graduated from Pope John Paul II in 2018.

Kelly and Carroll were part of a four-person lifeguard team that also included Jaslyn Bright and Jack deBen, their lifeguarding instructor from the American Red Cross and their supervisor at the Slidell Community Pool. The four received the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award.

“It’s the highest award a lifeguard can get for saving a life in the line of duty,” deBen said.

Kelly and Carroll had been swimming together for approximately 10 years, first at Pinewood Country Club and then at Pope John Paul.

Their high school swim coach, Rick Kelly, who is Patrick’s father, said they swam well enough to be lifeguards and were trained by deBen in 2016 and then recertified in 2018.

deBen said the lifesaving course includes training in CPR (for all ages), clearing obstructed airways, first aid, controlling bleeding and responding to “active” and “passive” drowning incidents.

An “active” drowning victim is conscious but unable to call out, wave or grab; a “passive” drowning victim is unconscious and floating at the water’s surface or sinking.

The young boy they saved was a passive drowning victim, deBen said. The team helped revive him before police, fire and EMS got to the scene.

deBen said he was not sure who recommended the team for the award. The American Red Cross fully investigated the lifesaving incident.

All members of the team received a citation for what they did as well as the Lifesaving Award at the American Red Cross headquarters in New Orleans last December. The award was issued by American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C., and signed by the chairman and president and CEO of the Red Cross.

“I thought (that) was pretty cool,” Carroll said.

Even though he has been a lifeguard for three years, “nothing on this scale had happened before. I really just thought the fact that we were able to save a child’s life is enough; I wasn’t expecting to get recognized for it.”

Mayor Greg Cromer and the city of Slidell also awarded them a certificate of recognition on July 10, 2018, for saving the boy’s life, deBen said.

Christine Bordelon can be reached at

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