By the time Plainfield Police Sergeant Colin Mulacek heard the whistle at the Ottawa Street Pool on the night of August 1, Plainfield Park District life guard Makenzie Vargo had already leaped in to action.
Mulacek was overseeing the Plainfield Police Department’s annual D.A.R.E. Night celebration when a middle schooler attending the event jumped in to the pool from the diving board.
“I heard a whistle blow and then saw Makenzie go in to the water,” said Mulacek who said that the event had over 80 children in attendance.
“She did a great job,” he said.
A couple of days before she was set to head back to college, Sgt. Mulacek and Plainfield Police Chief John Konopek presented Makenzie with a “Lifesaving Award” plaque for her quick action on August 1.
Chief Konopek also presented Makenzie with a Plainfield Police Department challenge coin which are typically presented to officers and in some cases civilians to recognize excellent work.
Vargo, a Plainfield South High School graduate, and current sophomore elementary education major at Illinois State, said that she saw right away that the child was in trouble.
“I saw him dive in and then he just started sinking,” said Makenzie who just finished her first year as a life guard at the pool. It was also the first time she had to jump in to assist a swimmer in distress too.
She attributes her fast response to the training she received before the start of the swim season at the pool.
Plainfield Park District aquatics supervisor Beth Brannen said that lifeguards at the Ottawa Street Pool receive 30 hours of training in order to be certified each year and in addition also take part in weekly in-service trainings throughout the season.