One minute he was swimming laps; the next thing he remembers is waking up on a stretcher being rushed to the hospital. Now a prominent D.C. pastor who’s on the mend is touting the service lifeguards do for others.
Rev. Dr. Earl D. Trent Jr. is senior pastor of Florida Avenue Baptist Church in Northwest D.C. His medical emergency happened May 12 in the pool at the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex in Landover, Maryland.
“My heart went into a fibrillation, so it stopped, and I dropped to the bottom of the pool,” Trent said. “There were no warning signs. I was in 4 feet of water; I could have stood up if I felt something.”
Trent later learned of the multifaceted action plan that was activated to remove him from the pool, get him resuscitated and guide the ambulance’s arrival. An emergency medical technician who was in the building preparing to do Red Cross CPR training heard the call go out and went to help.
“It was a team effort. So many, so many things fell in place,” Trent said.
His heart stopped. His lungs took on water. He died, but was brought back.
“You’ve got to wonder, is there anything after? Well, that’s a matter of faith,” Trent said. “I didn’t see any bright lights.”
He said people’s time on Earth isn’t infinite, but they leave a legacy and should spend time wisely to help others as best they can. You never know the potential impact or depth of what your help might accomplish.
“Preparation and opportunity is the blessing of God when they meet together,” Trent said. “And, certainly — the lifeguards — they were prepared. I’m here today because they were prepared and the opportunity came and their training kicked in.”
There’s a shortage of lifeguards throughout the area.
“If you’re thinking about becoming a lifeguard, just do it because it really is a rewarding experience,” said Sydnee Minor, 22, a pool manager who helped orchestrate the response to Trent’s emergency. “We need you. We’ll train you up.”
Minor has worked at the complex since 2015. She said skills you learn as a lifeguard can transfer anywhere if you want to do anything medical. And, the skills can be put to use in daily life.
“Moments like these, when we save a life and we work together as a team — those are the things that you remember. Those are the things you don’t forget,” she said.
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation in Prince George’s County is hiring and training lifeguards at $15 an hour or more, depending on experience. Anyone interested can learn more here.