Joshua Davis, Emily Heinzman and Charles K. Blake, Jr.

What started out as “a normal day” at community swimming pool last summer was anything but, when a lifeguard’s quick response saved two lives within minutes of each other, earning two Texans national recognition from American Red Cross.

              Joshua Davis, an architecture and marketing major at Howard University in Washington, D.C., received the Red Cross Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders during a ceremony in December. Emily Heinzman, the manager at the Bellaire Town Square Family Aquatic Center in Bellaire, Texas, and the person who taught Davis his life-saving skills, also was awarded the Red Cross Lifesavings Award for Instructors. Within a 10-minute time span, Davis rescued a 4-year-old boy who had the wind knocked out of him while jumping into the water and a 9-year-old girl who began to drown after diving into deep water.

              Davis said he watched the young boy reluctantly jump into the water at the encouragement of his mother. “He jumped directly toward his mother, who was at the end of the pool, and his chest hit the wall,” Davis said. Fortunately, the child only had the wind knocked out of him and he quickly received medical attention.

              Shortly after Davis had returned to his lifeguard station, a young girl dove into 12 feet of water and struggled to come to the surface. “I jumped off the diving board to save the girl who was actively drowning,” Davis said. “I brought her to the end of the pool, and she was checked out with the manager. She’s okay, as well.”

              “The Diving Well is a problem pool since a lot of children become more confident in their swimming skills until they’ve already jumped off and are underwater,” said pool manager Heinzman. “This is why we implemented swim tests since Joshua’s rescues. It made us recognize the importance of lifeguards making sure everyone is at the appropriate swim level and strength in order to use a diving board.”

              Heinzman said she is “absolutely honored” to receive the Instructor Award, but also feels “a little undeserving.”  She said, “I was simply doing my job.” She saved her praise for Davis, who she described as a quiet, kind and friendly leader.

              “He knows his stuff, but is incredibly humble,” Heinzman said. “Josh taught swim lessons this year for the first time, and he was a complete natural.”

              “He knows how to connect with kids and explain things in an engaging and friendly way,” she added.

              The Red Cross Lifesaving Awards program dates to 1911, when an anonymous donor wished to recognize first aid work rendered by railway workers. That gesture evolved into the Certificate of Merit, established in 1928. There are three awards: for professional responders, for extraordinary personal action and for lifesaving instructors.

              American Red Cross Training Services teaches lifesaving skills to an average of more than 7 million people each year, with more than 300,000 enrolled in lifesaving courses annually.  To learn more about and register for Red Cross water safety programs, go to

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit or, or follow us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Story by: David Guth