Eighteen-year-old Tyler Bailer likely never thought he’d have to quickly jump into action in order to save his stepdad’s life and probably never thought he’d meet the Queen either. Now he’s done both.
On Tuesday, the teen from Wetaskiwin, Alta. met Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, where she presented him with the Russell Award for his heroic actions in July of 2015.
“Right before she walked up to me … I really got the butterflies,” he told Global News.
“I just was talking to the Queen not too long ago which is like, ‘Never thought I’d ever say that.’”
Last year, Bailer was at home when he heard his mom yell. His stepdad – who has cardiomyopathy – collapsed after his heart stopped.
“I come running upstairs and I immediately start doing CPR on him for about 10 minutes … until an ambulance arrived and then they eventually took over,” he said.
“At first, I was panicking. I didn’t really know what to do at first but then training kicked in, I tried to stay as calm as I could.”
Bailer knew what to do because lifesaving happens to be a lifelong passion of his. When he was six, his parents enrolled him in the sport of lifesaving, which sees swimmers compete based on skills like swimming under obstacles or with mannequins.
Her Majesty meets outstanding Royal Life Saving Society volunteers, from UK, Kenyan, Australian, Malaysian branches and many more - all who are committed to #drowningprevention and life saving skills #RLSS125 The Queen also presented the King Edward VII Cup to Professor John Pearn for lifelong contribution to researching the science of #drowningprevention. The #RussellAward went to Royal Life Saving trained lifeguard Tyler Bailer, aged 17 from Canada, whose CPR skills saved the life of his stepfather And Zac Dominic from St Lucia received the #MountbattenMedal for risking his own life to save the life of a man being dragged out to sea #RLSS125
“I started with swimming lessons,” Bailer said. “Our pool has always had this junior lifeguarding club and I just got into it, I really liked it and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
The teen said the sport has recently seen him go to Germany and the Netherlands to compete internationally.
“We didn’t think that him saving my husband’s life would end up at the palace but here we are and we’re very proud,” Bailer’s mother Heather said. “Very, very proud and overwhelmed and he almost makes me want to cry.”
“My training kicked in from lifesaving and I just did what I had to do,” Bailer said.
“The first time I went to see him (his stepdad), all the nurses and the people who worked on him were asking about me like, ‘Who did CPR on him to begin with?’ I guess I did a good job cause he’s still with us.”
Bailer received the award at a reception for the Royal Lifesaving Society. The Russell Award goes to the person who performed the most outstanding rescue in the previous calendar year in the Commonwealth.
“When we put Tyler in lifesaving when he was six, we had no idea it would lead to something like this,” Bailer’s stepdad, Cameron, said.
Saving lives is something that seems to run in Bailer’s family. The teen said his great grandfather was also once given a lifesaving award.
The Queen and Prince Michael of Kent hosted a reception tonight to celebrate 125 years of the Royal Life Saving Society #RLSS125 The Royal Life Saving Society and its member branches teach valuable life-saving skills and educate communities across 27 Commonwealth countries on drowning prevention. Did you know when The Queen was 13, she too, achieved her Royal Life Saving Medal?
Queen Elizabeth is the Royal Lifesaving Society’s patron and according to a British media report, she herself received a Life Saving Medal from the society when she was a teen.
The Bailer family said they were thrilled with the opportunity to meet the Queen and that Her Royal Highness did not disappoint.
“She’s very soft-spoken and it’s just a very humbling experience,” Heather said. “I hope I’m like that when I’m 90.”
Wetaskiwin is 60 kilometres south of Edmonton.