Lifeguard helps save life of 7-year-old boy

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“Lifeguard helps save life of 7-year-old boy”

SMALL NORTHEASTERN TOWN: 07/03/2003 -

  • Name: [assistance-provider]
  • Age: 27
  • Hometown: [mid-sized east coast town]
  • Occupation: [assistance-provider] is the associate aquatic director at the [branch] YMCA.
  • Education: Graduate of [name] High School in [small nearby town]
  • Achievement: Along with lifeguard [rescuer] of [another small nearby town], played a critical role in saving 7-year-old [victim] of [another town] from drowning at the YMCA pool in [cited town] on June 21.

Fourteen children were playing in the pool as part of a birthday celebration. Several minutes into the party, [rescuer], 22, heard people screaming that someone was at the bottom of the pool. [rescuer] jumped in and found [victim] face- down at the bottom of the five-foot end. [rescuer] brought [victim] to the surface where [assistance-provider], an American Red Cross-certified lifeguard, took over. She placed him on his side and assisted, clearing his airway. Within minutes of being pulled out of the pool, [victim] began to spit out water and cry. [Cited town] first aid squad members and paramedics took the child to [name] Medical Center. He was released later that evening.

  • Quote: “As a mother of a 3-year-old, there was that maternal part of me that was so nervous, but I stayed calm. The whole staff did a great job of responding. When we called the hospital and found out he was not even staying overnight, I felt great.”
  • Advice to lifeguards: “Take it seriously. Think about the meaning of the word lifeguard because that's exactly what you are. A lot of people get a job as a lifeguard and they think all they have to do is lay out in the sun. It's so much more than that.”
  • Family: Brother, [name], 24; sister, [name], 32 and son, [name], 3.
  • Hobbies: [assistance-provider], who studied film at Rutgers, is an avid movie watcher.
  • Favorite flick: “The Stuff,” a 1985 horror movie.
  • Favorite TV Show: “The Simpsons”
  • Favorite band: Junky Good, a local band her boyfriend plays in.
  • Wheels: 1996 Toyota Camry
  • Favorite vacation: During her sophomore year in college, [assistance-giver] took a month long road trip across the country with a friend. The trip took her all the way to California. “It was the most fun I've ever had.”
  • Fantasy vacation: Italy
  • Dream job: Filmmaker

What we know:

  • The good news…
    • the rescuer retrieved the victim from the bottom of the pool
    • the assistance-provider revived the victim
    • the child’s life was saved…
  • the bad news…
    • the child was not noticed to be in trouble by a lifeguard during normal scanning activities
    • what brought the child to the lifeguard’s attention was not scanning, but the screams of several other swimmers
    • the child was already face down on the bottom of the pool before anyone saw him

What we don’t know:

  • whether the safety line dividing the deep portion of the pool from the shallow portion was in place
  • whether the child who nearly drowned was qualified to be in the deep part of the pool (i.e., whether he could swim)
  • whether the lifeguards had swim-tested him (and the other children) to determine whether they had any business in the deep end of the pool or not
  • what type of assistance was provided to the victim… just clearing his airway, or assisted breathing, or actual CPR… whatever the case, the assistance was effectual

What must be remembered:

  • special events, like birthday parties, have an unusually high correlation with aquatic tragedy
    • consistently test and mark every swimmer… these groups normally include children with whom your guards are not familiar. Then protect non-swimmers by restricting them to shallow water and ensuring that they are actively supervised within arms reach of an adult or in a life jacket.
    • rigorously enforce swimmer / non-swimmer area restrictions… peer pressure may be on them to be with their friends, not to follow rules about skill levels
    • be even more alert than ever… as all kids in the water, their attention is on fun, not safety; the difference is they may not be as experienced in the water as your normal swimmers
  • the words of the newly-initiated life-saver… “Take it seriously. Think about the meaning of the word lifeguard because that's exactly what you are. A lot of people get a job as a lifeguard and they think all they have to do is lay out in the sun. It's so much more than that.”

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about JCC risk management issues.

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