Rohan Rumalla, a 17-year-old student at Southlake Carroll Senior High School, knows about drowning. Ten years ago he nearly died in his own backyard pool.
That’s why he created a campaign to donate life jackets to the Loan-A-Life Jacket Program, managed by the Grapevine Fire Department. His donation of $6,000 may truly be a lifesaving gesture.
He tells of his experience.
“I passed out underwater, where I remained for over five minutes. When I was pulled out, I was unconscious, blue, and had no pulse. I was taken to Cook Children’s in Fort Worth via helicopter in critical condition, and my chances for survival were low. But through the wonders of science, my medical team, and the grace of God, I woke up three days later,” Rumalla said.
“ I survived. My family and I remain extremely blessed and thankful; however, many families are not so lucky. Since my drowning, I have been involved in drowning prevention and water safety, as I feel it is my duty to do my best to prevent further tragedy,” he said.
The Loan-A-Life Jacket Program started in 2017 stations five life-jacket “trees” at popular swimming locations around Grapevine Lake and encourages boaters and swimmers to borrow a life jacket while on the lake and return them prior to leaving the lake.
Over the past three years, 21 people have drowned in Grapevine Lake. None of these victims were wearing life jackets.
When at full capacity, there are 130 life jackets available among the five stations on Grapevine Lake. Each summer many people do not return their borrowed vests. The Loan-A-Life Jacket Program is funded through donations, and resources are limited to replace these life jackets.
Drowning kills an average of 3,536 people in the United States each year, the City of Grapevine said in a news release.
Many of these drownings occur in lakes, rivers, creeks, etc. where the water can be unpredictable and the ability to swim difficult, making life jackets essential, especially for people who do not know how to swim or have limited swimming ability.
For those who wish to donate to this life-saving program, call (817) 410.4450.
– FWBP Staff