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Lifeguard Honored, Surprised With a Hug From Woman He Saved

Above: Trish Cassidy (left) stands next her rescuer Emilio Basurto. Also pictured are Recreation and Special Events Director Brian Gruner and Tom Sirkel, President of the Golden Rain Foundation.

At its Board Meeting on Tuesday, August 7, the Golden Rain Foundation honored a heroic lifeguard and group of dedicated volunteer members of the Disaster Preparedness Task Force (DPTF).

Lifeguard Emilio Basurto was recognized for saving the life of a swimmer who suffered a medical emergency in Pool 4 last month. Upon seeing that someone was in distress, Lifeguard Basurto entered the pool in less than 30 seconds, extracted the swimmer from the pool and performed life-saving techniques. 

The Golden Rain Foundation contracts with Premier Aquatics for lifeguard and pool maintenance services in the Village. Premier Aquatics is a comprehensive aquatics company specializing in monitoring pool water quality, lifeguarding, and CPR/AED and first-aid training.

As Lifeguard Basurto stood before the room to accept his award, murmuring was heard from the crowd. In a twist of fate, seated in the audience was another person who owes her life to Lifeguard Basurto’s expert skills. At the urging of the crowd, a woman rose and went over to give Emilio a big hug. 

Back in 2017, Trish Cassidy was swimming at Pool 5 when she suffered a medical emergency. Lifeguard Basurto was the lifeguard on duty. He saw her hanging on the lane lines and immediately knew something was very wrong. He jumped in, got her out of the pool and performed CPR. 

Tuesday was not the first time Ms. Cassidy was able to express her thanks to Lifeguard Basurto. After her rescue, she spent three weeks in the hospital but eventually made a full recovery. “Once I was back on my feet and could go, I went to the pool to track Emilio down,” Ms. Cassidy said. “He couldn’t believe I came back. He gave me a big hug.”

Disaster Preparedness Task Force honored (left to right): Chief Tim Moy, Doug Gibson, Kathleen Mathews, Joanne Foster, Trish Cassidy, Marie Gates, Tom Soule and GRF President Tom Sirkel.

Ms. Cassidy is not just a recipient of emergency response; she’s also a dedicated emergency volunteer. She spent nine years as the Secretary of the Disaster Preparedness Task Force Committee and today remains a Good Neighbor Captain for her building. Ms. Cassidy attended Tuesday’s GRF meeting because a number of volunteers were being honored by GRF for their longtime participation in the DPTF.

The DPTF has a long history in Laguna Woods Village. It was founded in 1989 by Village Residents and is made up of volunteers who function under GRF and in cooperation with the Security Department. Its purpose has always been to educate, inform and prepare our community in the event of a major disaster. Volunteers like Ms. Cassidy are trained to assist Village Residents and first responders in the event of an emergency. 

In addition to Trish, the following DPTF volunteers were recognized for their outstanding service at Tuesday’s GRF Board Meeting: Joanne Foster, Marie Gates, Doug Gibson, Lorrie Gibson, Kathleen Mathews, Paula Page (posthumously), Jim Riedel, Betty Rockefeller, Ernie Senser, Tom Soule, Bob Tucker and Robert Yates. These dedicated DPTF volunteers and countless others have made a powerful impact on the community. 

The DPTF is always looking for more volunteers, especially Good Neighbor Captains, who help check on Residents in their buildings or cul-de-sacs in the event of a fire, earthquake or other disasters. Captains also assist in reporting injuries, building damage, utility outages or other hazardous conditions to the Village’s Emergency Operation Center. 

To inquire about getting involved with the Disaster Preparedness Task Force, please contact Debbie Ballesteros, Administrative Assistant, at 949-268-2356 or email disasterpreparedness@vmsinc.org.


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Unless otherwise stated, all meetings, events and amenities are for the use of Laguna Woods Village residents and their authorized guests only.