June 25 is a day that Jack Mallahan and Jesse Risch won’t soon forget.
The two Frisco Fun Club counselors were just wrapping up a day of hiking at Rainbow Lake with a group of 16 campers. They were making their way to the bike path near the Miner’s Creek parking lot when one of the children made a startling discovery: a man lying motionless, face down next to a parked car.
“At first we kind of just looked at each other,” said Risch. “It probably only lasted a second, but it felt a lot longer. We definitely had that moment where we both thought, ‘All right, this is happening.’”
Risch and Mallahan immediately sprang into action. As Mallahan assessed the man’s condition, Risch herded the campers away from the scene, dialing 911 as he rounded up the group.
“I just didn’t want them to see the rest of that,” Risch said, “and I’m glad they didn’t.”
Once the campers were out of sight, Mallahan rolled the man over. The man was unresponsive and had turned blue.
“When we first saw him, I didn’t think he was alive whatsoever,” Mallahan said. “When I rolled him over, it looked like he had been dead for a while.”
Despite the man’s appearance, Mallahan began performing CPR. In Colorado, camp counselors are required by statute to undergo CPR training, a certification that is valid for two years. Frisco Fun Club provides CPR training every year prior to the start of camp.
Mallahan continued CPR until EMS arrived. The counselors would later learn the man survived.
On Tuesday, July 8, the Frisco Town Council recognized Risch and Mallahan for their heroic efforts. Mayor Gary Wilkinson praised the young men for providing the first and second link of the “chain of survival.”
“That first link is immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system,” Wilkinson said. “The second link is early cardiopulmonary resuscitation with an emphasis on chest compressions.
“A strong chain of survival can improve chances of survival and recovery for victims of heart attack, stroke and other emergencies. I am proud to have employees working for the town of Frisco who go above and beyond.”
Despite the recognition, Risch and Mallahan said they’re thankful they were able to stay up to date about the man’s condition. Many of the first responders are parents of Frisco Fun Club campers, who kept the young men updated through phone calls and text messages.
“It makes you appreciate living in a town like this,” Risch said.
“We’re both really, really grateful the man survived,” added Mallahan. “It was incredible to see such an outpouring of love from the community.”