St. Augustine City Commission Honors Life-Saving Lighthouse Employee

Mike Barclay, historical interpreter at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, was honored at Monday’s City Commission meeting for using the Heimlich maneuver to save a guest’s life.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. – In his position as historical interpreter for the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, Mike Barclay enjoys spending his days outdoorsandsharing the light station’s history with guests. But one April afternoon, in the museum courtyard, Barclay’s history lesson came to an abrupt end when an elderly guest began choking.

“She was actually very calm about the whole thing,” said Barclay. “That really helped me stay calm and handle the situation as best I could.”

The former Air Force crew chief moved swiftly into action. Using the Heimlich maneuver, Barclay was able to dislodge the obstruction and clear the woman’s airway. His life-saving actions were honored with a Certificate of Recognition from Mayor Joe Boles at the St. Augustine City Commission meeting on Monday, May 12th. The commission also declared June 7th as National Heimlich Day.

“We are incredibly proud of Mike,” said Kathy A. Fleming, the museum’s executive director. “He was very brave to step up and take action. He’s always been wonderful with our guests and this just takes it to another level.”

Prior to joining the museum’s staff in November 2012, Barclay was an F-16 crew chief at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. He is a native of Orlando, Fla., but has family roots in St. Augustine. His grandfather Robert E. Barclay was mayor of St. Augustine from 1971- 1973.

“I’m very thankful for the award from the city,” said Barclay, “But really I’m just glad the guest was okay and the situation ended on a happy note.”



A pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for over 140 years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the Nation’s Oldest PortSM. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)3 non-profit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum is on a mission to preserve, present and keep alive the story of the Nation’s Oldest Port SM as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.