Hayden White figured he was in the right place at the right time.
White, a 2018 Carmel High School graduate and a junior in Purdue University’s athletic training program, was working as a lifeguard at Carmel’s Woodland Springs neighborhood pool July 26 when he saved the life of fellow lifeguard Catherine Baker, who goes by Cat.
White was recently honored with Purdue’s One Brick Higher Award, given to those who go beyond the requirements of their role and through extraordinary effort to improve the lives of those around them. Purdue President Mitch Daniels presented the award Nov. 20 in a video presentation.
“I was just doing my job,” White said. “It was actually Cat’s mom that sent an email to my department chair and program director and the Purdue board of trustees giving the account.”
Baker, another 2018 CHS graduate, is grateful for White’s quick thinking when she passed out because of a heat stroke.
“I am endlessly thankful to Hayden for saving my life, and I’m so proud of him for getting the recognition and praise he deserves,” Baker said. “I know he’s going to do amazing things in life, and I’m so lucky to be here to support him through it all.”
White said he used his training when Baker collapsed.
“I rushed over there and did a primary and secondary assessment, which is what we do to make sure people have a pulse and don’t have any other severe injuries,” White said. “As I was doing my assessment, I started to notice her eyes started to shake violently. I knew then we had a certain nervous system problem and the heat was causing it.”
White said he made sure emergency medical services came as soon as possible.
“We had ice packs and popsicles on her body trying to cool her down as best we could,” he said. “When EMS arrived, I told them what had happened. We agreed she needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible to make sure she didn’t have any internal damage. She went to the hospital and came back home later that evening.”
Baker and White, who didn’t know each other well in high school, have become good friends.
White took sports medicine classes at CHS, which led him to the athletic training program at Purdue. He played tennis for CHS and club volleyball, so he didn’t have time to do athletic training in high school. Prior to Woodland Springs, White had been a lifeguard at the Village of WestClay pool for four years.