Two Lakeland teens, including one who used the CPR he learned at Kathleen Middle School, rescued another teen from the bottom of a pool and revived him. For that, they were honored for heroism Monday by the Lakeland Fire Department.

Justin Taylor-Perez, 15, and Jacob Sarrano-Solis, 16, stood tall when they were honored as unsung heroes by Fire Chief Douglas Riley and Mayor Bill Mutz at Monday’s City Commission meeting.

From left, Justin Taylor-Perez, Chief Riley, Jacob Sarrano-Solis, Mayor Mutz. The two teens received a standing ovation at Monday’s City Commission meeting.

The incident occurred just before 6 p.m. on Sept. 8, a Sunday, at Carlton Arms North Apartments. Somebody called for help after they noticed a 15-year-old was at the bottom of the pool around five minutes after entering it.

Sarrano-Solis jumped in and pulled the person from the deep end of the pool. Taylor-Perez, already in the pool, swam over to help pull him out of the water.

The person pulled from the pool was unresponsive, the fire chief said, and a bystander began pushing on their stomach.

Taylor-Perez knew from his middle school CPR class that other actions were needed, so he “took command and began chest compressions while having a family member of the patient perform the mouth-to-mouth breathing,” Chief Riley said.

After several minutes, the patient came to and began labrored breathing. It wasn’t long before crews from Lakeland Fire Department and Polk Fire Rescue arrived, took over medical care and arranged to airlift him to a nearby hospital, the chief said.

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“Attending medics shared that they attribute the two teens actions a contributing factor to the patient’s survival and eventual recovery,” Riley told commissioners. “It is also important to recognize the impacts of in-school programs, like Kathleen Middle School’s first-aid course; which taught Justin how to properly perform CPR and resulted in a life saved.”

Each of the teens received a plaque recognizing them as recipients of the Lakeland Fire Department’s Citizen Hero Award.

“They each took actions that some would hesitate to, and did it all because they knew it was the right thing to do in someone’s time of absolute need,” Chief Riley said.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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