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posted: 3/31/2014 4:45 PM

Oak Brook Park District Lifeguard Receives National Top Honor

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  • One in One Thousand:  Darius Melton, 23, of Chicago and a lifeguard at the Oak Brook Park District Family Aquatic Center, was the recent recipient of the National Golden Guard Award from Ellis and Associates, Inc. Only one in one thousand lifeguards across the nation will ever receive this award. Greg Wooley, Oak Brook Park District

      One in One Thousand: Darius Melton, 23, of Chicago and a lifeguard at the Oak Brook Park District Family Aquatic Center, was the recent recipient of the National Golden Guard Award from Ellis and Associates, Inc. Only one in one thousand lifeguards across the nation will ever receive this award. Greg Wooley, Oak Brook Park District

 
Jessica Cannaday

Thu., Mar. 27, 2014 – Oak Brook Park District is proud to announce that the agency has not only recently been awarded the prestigious Gold International Aquatic Safety Award by international risk management company Jeff Ellis & Associates, Inc., but its very own lifeguard, Darius Melton, 23, has been recognized as one of the top lifeguards in the nation.

Melton is the recipient of Ellis & Associates Golden Guard Award, which is presented to exemplary lifeguards employed at waterparks, city parks, or hotels. The selection process involves a rigorous review that includes undercover video surveillance of individual lifeguards in order to accurately evaluate their professional diligence. Each auditor of Ellis & Associates can only give a certain number of Golden Guard Awards each season, and only one in one thousand guards across the country will receive the honor.

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Melton started his career as a lifeguard with the Oak Brook Park District in 2007. He is currently studying Molecular/Cellular Biology and Biological Anthropology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and one day hopes to become a trauma surgeon. "I was drawn to lifeguarding then, just like I'm drawn to medicine now, says Melton. "Lifeguarding led me to becoming an EMT-Basic, which will help me become a great ER physician, which will in turn help me become a fantastic trauma surgeon."

Melton's passion was not lost on Ellis & Associate's auditor, Katie Turner. Turner says she rarely, if ever, gives out Golden Guard Awards, and believes it's very difficult to stand out among others that are trained to save lives. However, the longer she observed Melton, the more convinced she became that he was the definition of a Golden Guard.

"We have always had exemplary guards and always worked well as a team," says Jessica Gray, Family Aquatics Center Manager for the Oak Brook Park District, "it's an honor to have a staff member recognized as one of the nation's top lifeguards."

Earning the Golden Guard Award and Gold International Aquatic Safety Award demonstrates that Oak Brook Park District's Family Aquatic Center consistently exceed industry standards in risk management and epitomizes aquatic safety excellence. While the park district has received the Gold International Aquatic Safety Award since 2009, this is the first time a staff member has been honored with the Golden Guard Award.

"It is apparent that the entire staff embodies the idea of setting the standard in aquatic safety and swimmers who frequent this aquatic facility are afforded the highest degree of swimmer protection currently available for the aquatic industry," said Richard A. Carroll, Jeff Ellis & Associates, Inc. Senior Vice President and COO.

The Oak Brook Park District Family Aquatic Center is an innovative and award winning indoor aquatic facility located at 1450 Forest Gate Road in Oak Brook. The facility is open to residents and nonresidents. Annual and summer memberships are available. Daily Admission Fees are $10/$12 for resident/nonresident adults or $6/$8 for resident/nonresident youth and seniors. Kids under 2 swim free. For lap swim, open swim, and parent/tot splash times, please visit www.obparks.org.

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