Tim Waud saves Jim Teisher from drowning using knowledge from training course

PHOTO COURTESY: TIM WAUD - Tim Waud, Jim Teisher and Aaron Hawkins pose for a photo after celebrating Teisher's survival of a near drowning in an Oregon City river in June 2020. On June 23, 2020, Tim Waud was swimming in open water with his friend Jim Teisher at Clackamette Cove in Oregon City, when Teisher experienced a cardiac arrest.

For helping to save Teisher's life, Waud recently was awarded a Certificate of Merit, the highest award given by the Red Cross and signed by the U.S. president.

While towing Teisher in, Waud kept checking to see if he had a pulse and was breathing. He got no response and whistled and yelled loudly for someone on the shore to call 911. PHOTO COURTESY: TIM WAUD - Oregon City's Tim Waud poses with the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual who helps save a life using knowledge from a training course.

Once on the shore, Waud began CPR and tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Waud's friend Aaron Hawkins, a fellow Oregon City Tanker — a Pacific Northwest Masters swim team — who was with the two men at the cove that day, joined Waud in two-person CPR. Hawkins was awarded the American Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.

"Without a doubt, Tim's training and certification in Lifeguarding/First Aid/CPR/AED and support from Aaron providing CPR helped save Jim's life," said Colleen Hathaway of the Red Cross Cascades Region.

Waud and Teisher are both accomplished swimmers. Waud is a USMS National Champion who began coaching USMS in 1992; he is the Oregon Masters Swimming chair and head coach of the Oregon City Tankers. Teisher is a USMS-certified coach. Both had swum in Clackamette Cove before.   

According to the Red Cross account, it was a beautiful, sunny day, and the men swam for a while before heading to a set of white buoys, which are part of a training course used by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Marine Unit.

Everything seemed fine until Teisher started to slip under the water.  

"On that day, I had no warning of what was about to happen. I didn't feel lightheaded. I didn't have any pains anywhere or feel out of breath," Teisher said. "I had a cardiac arrest, which means my heart just stopped. I felt absolutely fine, and then I was out like a light."  

When Waud realized something was wrong, he sprang into action, grabbing Teisher and rolling him onto his back, getting his face out of the water. Then he began swimming quickly to shore, "kicking harder than I ever have in my life."  

Though tired from swimming, the two men continued compressions on Teisher until Emergency Medical Services arrived and took over. 

"The rescue crew was able to get Jim's heart restarted by using an AED and creating an airway," Waud said. "Because the shoreline was too steep, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Marine Unit had to get a boat into the cove and take Jim to the Clackamette River boat launch a half-mile away."

Teisher's wife, Jeanne, and Waud both arrived at the hospital at the same time. She was able to enter the hospital to see her husband. 

"I stayed outside, anxiously waiting for a report," Waud said. "After a few minutes, Jeanne came out to tell me that Jim was OK. He was alert, complained of a very sore chest, and could not remember what had happened. Finally, able to take a deep breath, I felt a wave of relief and emotion."

Waud has gone swimming solo over a dozen times in Clackamette Cove, but he will never swim alone again. 

"I will always swim with a buddy, wear a tow float with a whistle, and if possible, have an escort," he said. "It is also important to be aware of your surroundings and stay close to the shoreline."

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