Wright State trip leaders spring to action to save a life at Yellowstone National Park

Wright State students at Grand Teton National Park: back row from left: Pietro Soldi, Nate Hoam, Silas Hoam, Riccardo Ramelli, Cass Poppelman and Elizabeth Harvey; front row from left: Jack Wehe, Hannah Mesa Rahul Shah and Krystal Singh.

Two Wright State University students relied on instincts honed as lifeguards to save a life during a national parks trip organized by Wright State’s Outdoor Resource Center.

During a visit to the natural hot springs at Yellowstone National Park, student guides Hannah Mesa and Silas Hoam rescued a woman who was having a seizure in a nearby cold pool.

Mesa has worked as a lifeguard at Wright State’s swimming pool and Hoam also worked as a lifeguard at a pool in his hometown last summer.

“I don’t know what would’ve happened if we were not there because there were not any lifeguards on duty,” said Mesa. “That woman could’ve absolutely drowned if we were not there to help her.”

After stabilizing the woman’s body, Hoam noticed she had hit her head during the seizure.

“We took her to a room to get dried off,” said Hoam. “We were basically looking after her until the EMTs arrived.”

Erin Compaleo, assistant director of outdoor recreation, said the guides were at the right place at the right time.

“All of our trip leaders are certified in wilderness first aid and luckily these two trip leaders were also certified as lifeguards,” said Compaleo.

Eight Wright State students and two guests participated in the nine-day trip to Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt national parks.

“It’s a really cool way for students to see the country at a low cost,” said Compaleo.

For only a few hundred dollars, students experienced a kaleidoscope of colors at each destination. Desert browns from the Badlands, greens and whites from the snow-covered mountains of the Grand Tetons, bright orange and dark reds from Yellowstone and various shades of clay from Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Wright State students exploring Badlands National Park.

“It’s a wide variety of terrane and beauty,” said Compaleo. “It takes a little bit of traveling to experience it.”

Hoam, who is an electrical engineering major, said he really enjoyed the experience at Theodore Roosevelt.

“The colors were stunning,” he said. “We went up on a ridge next to a canyon and the river was bending around and we could see the sun setting behind the hills. It was gorgeous and I definitely want to go back there again.”

The students also witnessed wildlife they don’t see in Dayton.

“We saw bears and moose and so many bison,” said Mesa, who is a psychology major. “Horseback riding in the Black Hills was absolutely incredible.”

This was the third national parks road trip organized by Campus Recreation in as many years. Compaleo organized the first trip after COVID-19 as a way for students to experience the outdoors and see new parts of the country.

The road trips have become so popular that Campus Recreation is considering adding a second trip to Utah’s five national parks next May.

“We are a year away and we are almost full,” said Compaleo.

To learn more about the Outdoor Resource Center and upcoming trips and clinics visit wright.edu/student-affairs/campus-recreation/outdoor-resource-center.

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