Maya Greenstein

Composed teen lifeguard Maya Greenstein saves a small child with use of CPR at the Oak Park Community Pool.

Featured photo by Seymour Greenstein

Visitors to the Oak Park Community Pool witnessed an unforgettable scene July 7 when lifeguard Maya Greenstein, 16, of Southfield, dove into the pool, whisked out the oxygen-deprived body of a 4-year-old girl, performed CPR and saved her life.

Greenstein said she was scanning the pool when she noticed a little girl lying face down in the water. Greenstein blew her whistle to activate the emergency action plan and immediately jumped in the pool.

“When I saw the girl was blue all over, I didn’t know how long she’d been under water and I was terrified,” Greenstein says. “Her mother ran over, screaming, but I said I had to do CPR. I put her down on the concrete and started doing compressions.”

In the meantime, a second lifeguard called 911 while another ran for the pool manager.

“Eventually she started throwing up, started to get a little color back,” says Maya, who is going into grade 11 at Beth Jacob High School in Oak Park. “The problem was she had water in her lungs, so we kept doing more and more compressions and she kept throwing up.”

Greenstein became a certified lifeguard last summer and says she had always been nervous she would freeze when confronted with an emergency. She needn’t have worried.

“Maya was amazing,” said the little girl’s mother who asked to be identified as D.S. “She held herself together, never lost her composure and kept everyone calm. She was literally an angel from heaven, at the right place at the right time, and we are indebted to her forever.”

Naturally, such a sight was terrifying for everyone who had been in the pool. One such bystander, Malka Kramsky of Oak Park, expressed the sentiment of the crowd: “Everyone was so afraid … then suddenly the girl opened her eyes. It was a miracle.”

Shortly after the girl started responding, the paramedics and Hatzalah (a community medical service) arrived. An oxygen mask was applied to the little girl and she was taken by ambulance to the hospital where she stayed for observation overnight.

“Thank God, she was able to come home; there was no damage,” said D.S. who stayed in constant contact with Greenstein throughout their hospital stay. “It was a sobering reminder not to take your eyes off a small child in the water for even a second, even in shallow water.” She also said her entire family is overcome with appreciation to God for the miracle they experienced.

Greenstein experienced a rush of adrenaline for the rest of the day. “It was only my third week on the job,” she says.

Other community members who’d been at the pool were even more amazed and impressed, especially with Greenstein herself. Many sent messages commending her actions to Greenstein and her parents. Aliza Sosne of Oak Park said Greenstein exhibited “true grace under pressure … Maya was thrust into an incredibly hard position and did the best she could ever do.”

Greenstein’s message to the community: “Make sure to follow rules at the pool; it will make it safer for everyone and help prevent tragedies.” She also recommends that everyone — even people who aren’t up for the grueling lifeguard training — take a course on CPR.


  1. Anything can happen in an instant. My husband works at a funeral home and worked a 13 year old’s funeral on one of his first days. The parents were there, swimming with their child. Unfortunately, some of the comments on the article accused the parents of being on their cell phones, which they were not. In any case, I wish there could be a rule against mindlessly scrolling through your phone when the tiniest look away could produce such tragedy… so proud of Maya, and thankful the little one is okay!


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