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LSU Boyd Professor James Oxley, second from left, chats with student lifeguards after a press conference to discuss the incident where Oxley on July 5th suffered cardiac arrest while swimming at the LSU University Recreation Center and was rescued by student lifeguards Thursday July 25, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La. From left, Isabella Alvarez, James Oxley, Kati Estes, Evan Young and Jude Hinson. Oxley suffered no heart or brain damage, which doctors attributed to the quick response.

Ronald Reagan eventually became the leader of the free world, but the former president often seemed even prouder of what he’d done as a young lifeguard in Dixon, Illinois, fishing out swimmers when they got in trouble. Reagan had saved lives — accomplishment enough regardless of where the rest of his life took him.

We thought about Reagan the other day after the news that several LSU students had saved math professor James Oxley when he went into cardiac arrest last month in one of the university’s pools.

Lifeguard Kati Estes, an LSU junior, got to Oxley first and began rescue breathing. Isabella Alvarez, a senior who’s also a lifeguard, radioed for EMS backup, and Evan Young, a senior and aquatics supervisor, did CPR compressions. Eventually, according to school officials, five other students offered assistance.

LSU students saved professor after sudden cardiac arrest; EMS calls response 'phenomenal'

Thanks to that help, Oxley was released from the hospital after two days, with no damage to his heart or brain.

Most college students dream of graduating school one day and making a difference. These young people have already made the biggest difference of all. They’ve saved a life, something they’re not likely to top as long as they live.

We congratulate them all on their quick thinking and calm under pressure. In a world too full of bad news, these LSU students have given us what could be the happiest news story of the season.