Lifeguard receives a “billion-star rating”, national honors for saving child’s life

By Laura McGuire, American Red Cross

On Aug. 27, 2020, Jayden Taylor was lifeguarding at a pool at Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells when she saw a child go under water. That’s when her instincts and American Red Cross training kicked in.

The young child was a tired swimmer who ventured out too far in the pool and was overcome by a wave. Jayden rushed into the water, rescued the child and returned the child to her parents mere moments after the whole incident started.

Jayden Taylor from her lifeguard post in Wisconsin Dells.

“I didn’t see myself in the moment, the only vision I had was to help the child,” said Jayden. “Thanks to the training I received as a lifeguard, my quick actions and adrenaline kicked in. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. It shows your skills and trainings are always with you and you never know when you might need them.”  

This was the first water rescue for Jayden, who still works at the Wilderness and looks forward to seeing the child again in the future. The pool rescue has been followed by recognition on two fronts.

Madelyn Lorentz from her home, safe after a swimming scare.

About a month after the incident, Jayden received a thank-you note from the child, who gave her “a billion-star rating” for saving her life. And on May 20, Jayden was presented with the Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders, a national recognition from the Red Cross that includes a certificate and citation for her pool heroics. This is one of the highest awards given by the American Red Cross to an individual who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross Training Services course. This action exemplifies the highest degree of concern of one human being for another who is in distress.

Shortly after Jayden’s rescue, nine-year-old, Madelyn Lorentz wrote a thank you to Jayden for saving her life and sent it to the Wilderness. In the note she gave Jayden a “billion star” rating. The thoughtful note sparked the interest of the aquatics director who shared the letter with the Red Cross. The Red Cross conducts the resort’s lifeguard training.

Madelyn’s thank-you note to Jayden.

Kyle Kriegl, Executive Director, Southwest Wisconsin Chapter of the Red Cross, said he believes Jayden’s actions can compel others to take swim safety training and to become lifeguards.

“We are proud to honor Jayden for her courageous actions,” Kriegl said. “We hope that her story will inspire others to learn these lifesaving skills. We need more heroes in the community who are trained and ready to jump into action.”

Watch a video of Jayden sharing more on her heroic water rescue here.

It only takes a moment. A child or weak swimmer can drown in the time it takes to reply to a text or apply sunscreen. Death and injury from drownings happen every day. The Red Cross believes that by working together to improve water competency – which includes swimming skills, water smarts and helping others – will make water activities safe and fun.

You can be trained in CPR, First Aid, lifeguarding and other life-saving skills. Sign up here for virtual and in-person lessons from the American Red Cross.

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