Helping bring back a man to life, who no longer had a detectable pulse, earned one senior from Bishop Kearney H.S., Bensonhurst, an Employee of the Month Award from the N.Y.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.
Brianna Minogue and her fellow lifeguard, Inez Zuska, performed a by-the-books rescue on Dimitry Zhalkevich, who was drowning at Brighton Beach.
It all happened on a Friday during a heat wave. Minogue was coming down from a back-to-back shift. As Zuska prepared to take Minogue’s spot, Minogue took a routine scan before moving.
That is when she noticed a man laying face down in the water.
“Everything in my mind shut off except for what I had to do in that moment,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking about anything else – not about school or college.”
She blew her whistle and her team of lifeguards performed a rescue they practiced dozens of times.
By the time the lifeguards were able to bring Zhalkevich back to the beach, he was foaming at the mouth from the seizure he experienced.
Minogue held the man, and Zuska performed CPR. The team was able to revive the man before the ambulance came.
After speaking with the authorities and placing a quick phone call home, Minogue went straight back on duty. The swimmers still wanted to enjoy the beach weather.
“It really didn’t hit me till I got home,” she said.
At home, her family was gathered to welcome her sister back from camp. They offered her words of support.
“My parents were so proud,” she said. “That made me feel real good – that I did something to make them proud.”
Minogue said it was at home that she was able to begin to really process the situation.
“It was really scary,” she said. “But I know that we did what we had to do, what we were trained to do and that he was in good hands at the hospital and that everything would work out. And it did, thank God.”
Zhalkevich was hospitalized for three weeks but walked away with his life. When he was released, he returned to the beach to thank the lifeguards who saved his life.
“I was in total shock when I saw him,” she said. “He was so thankful…He gave us flowers and cards.”
She said the experience just re-affirmed for her the importance of lifeguarding and boosted her confidence.
“Now I know that I can handle bad situations,” she said. It definitely made me a stronger person.”
It also give her a new insight on the importance of her training when she starts swimming again for the Tigers at Bishop Kearney.
Minogue started her swimming career when she could still show her age on one hand at Good Shepherd school, Marine Park. She followed in her mother’s swim-strokes. Her mother’s siblings also swam, as did all her friends and her sister.
When she entered Bishop Kearney, she honed her skills as a long-distance swimmer, building up the endurance needed to be a lifeguard.
“She is an outstanding young lady,” her athletic director, Anthony Troiano said.
She is able to balance academics, college applications and three sports teams, all with a smile on her face, she said. She competes on the swim, golf and volleyball team in her school.
“One of Brianna’s best qualities is that she is really fun to be around,” Troiano said. “She makes all the teams she’s on better because of her positive attitude.
“She is a perfect role model for the incoming freshman. She likes to win, but she likes to have fun while doing it.”
Now, as Minogue begins her senior year and tries to figure out what to do with the rest of her life, she is already itching to go back to the beach and stand guard over beach-goers in Brooklyn.