Two young off-duty Malibu area lifeguards are being hailed as heroes for helping to save a man’s life last week.
Tim Harvey with Mugu Lifeguards—and who runs the Leo Carrillo Junior Life Guards program—told The Malibu Times a 76-year-old cyclist who suffered an apparent heart attack while biking along Pacific Coast Highway was fortunate to have the two young men and two other bystanders spot him in distress.
P.J. Brewer and Robert Ginoti were off duty, but driving together July 25 to their lifeguard jobs with the California State Parks Department at Leo Carrillo Beach. The two young guards saw the cyclist fall over and quickly got to work performing CPR along with a bystander, Kim Rosenberg. Before the fire department EMTs arrived, the three were able to get the senior’s pulse back.
Twenty-two-year-old P.J. Brewer, who started as a junior lifeguard and worked his way onto the force, said they just happened to come across the scene moments before arriving at the state beach.
“We were driving to work and right before we got to Leo Carrillo we saw this guy laying on his back and a lady bicyclist kind of freaking out,” Brewer described. “We swerved over—I was driving—and pulled up behind them. There was already a car there with someone calling 911.” That caller was Dan Rosenblum.
“Right then, the lady said, ‘I’m about to start CPR,’” Brewer recalled.
That woman, Kim Rosenberg, is a cardiac nurse who performed the first round of compressions.
“As that was going on, I got my pocket mask and gloves from my backpack and took over rescue breathing,” Brewer said. “Robert Ginoti took over compressions.”
A few minutes later, Malibu’s own mayor, Rick Mullen, who is a fire department captain, rolled up with his crew—Engine 99. Mullen said the patient initially had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. He credits not only the lifeguards, but Rosenberg and Rosenblum for their actions in helping to save the man’s life.
While this was not Brewer’s first rescue, in four summers on the force it was his first CPR. However, he described his actions as merely routine.
“We’ve been trained for so long it was really just running through the motions,” Brewer said. “We practice pretty often. Both of us agreed in the end that, due to our training, it went really smoothly and we weren’t under that much pressure because we knew what to do.” The 24-year-old Ginoti has six years of lifeguarding under his belt.
The unidentified male patient is now reportedly doing well.
“I heard later that day from a fire captain that he was going to make a recovery,” Brewer said. It was happy news to Brewer and Ginoti, who say they’ve been congratulated by their coworkers, friends and family. Mullen has even invited the four lifesavers to City Hall on Sept. 24 to honor them for their efforts in helping to resuscitate the senior bicyclist.
“They quickly and decisively took action,” Mullen said, “working as a team to keep this gentleman’s heart in a viable condition so that when we were able to provide a shock it responded. They set us up for success.”
Brewer encouraged others to learn lifesaving techniques, saying, “CPR and knowing what to do in this situation can all be learned at a class. You can get certified. Lifeguarding trained us really hard. Any of our guards would have been able to do the same job we did.”
While Brewer acknowledged he and Ginoti’s actions helped save the man’s life, he insisted on thanking the Los Angeles County Fire Department crew for their efforts. “When we got there, after a few minutes the fire department came—Engine 99,” the young lifeguard said. “Their life saving device—the AED—was the main tool that brought him back. It delivers a shock to the heart and analyzes heart rhythms. It’s a great tool. We kept oxygen and blood flowing until they got there. It wasn’t just us that brought him back.
“The feeling I got later in the day when I found out the man was going to be okay was one of the best feelings that I’ve ever had in my entire life,” he added. “I’m very happy about it.”
John Regan, Ginoti and Brewer’s supervisor at California State Parks Lifeguards said, “P.J. and Robert did an outstanding job. I’m glad they were in the right place at the right time.”
Mullen said he spoke to a friend of the patient who reported he is “on his way to recovery.” Mullen added, “It would be a noteworthy occasion if the patient was able to be with us at City Hall in September.”