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Teens awarded for rescuing, performing CPR on boy at Lakeland pool

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Two teenagers, one with middle school CPR training, are being credited with helping to save another teenage boy’s life.

“I had to sit down and think about it like – ‘Wow, I really saved his life,’” said Justin Taylor-Perez, a 15-year-old sophomore at Lakeland High School.

Taylor-Perez was relaxing at Carlton Arms of North Lakeland on Sept. 8 when he heard people screaming about a 15-year-old boy at the bottom of the pool.

Jacob Serrano-Solis
(Photo courtesy of Lakeland Fire Dept.)

Jacob Serrano-Solis, 16, jumped into the pool and pulled the boy to the surface.

“I grabbed the kid out of the water and I started giving him CPR,” said Taylor-Perez.

He was taught CPR in 7th grade at Kathleen Middle School by James Ledford, a former teacher, he said.

“I remember you had to do 30 chest compressions and 2 rescue breaths and that’s all I really needed to know,” said Taylor-Perez.

He alternated chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth with a woman on scene until first responders from the Lakeland Fire Department arrived, he said.

“He did have a pulse when we arrived on scene. He was beginning to breathe when we got on scene,” firefighter/EMT Travis Pack said about the teenage patient. “Early CPR is very, it’s key, really.”

“It was very relieving. I was actually really excited because I was like ‘Oh my god, yes, he’s alive.’ I wasn’t thinking at the time ‘I saved someone’s life,’” said Taylor-Perez.

The patient was flown to a local hospital.

“For a 15-year-old and his friends to be able to do that and think under pressure that way, that’s very mature for their age,” said Pack.

Justin Taylor-Perez (center) with former teacher James Ledford (left)
Photo courtesy of Dainelis Perez

The Lakeland Fire Department gave the Citizen Hero Award to Taylor-Perez and Serrano-Solis at this week’s city commission meeting.

“Attending medics shared that they attribute the two teens actions a contributing factor to the patient’s survival and eventual recovery,” said Chief Douglas Riley in prepared remarks.

Taylor-Perez’s mother, Dainelis Perez, surprised her son by bringing him to the meeting without an explanation.

“He not only brought me joy. He brought the family joy. He saved that family from grief,” she said.

“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,” said Chief Riley.

Justin Taylor-Perez is interested in possibly becoming an emergency responder and urges everyone to learn CPR.

This week, Sen. Kevin Rader filed a bill in the Senate that would require CPR training at Florida high schools.

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