Friday, March 13, 2009

Lifeguard Training

I have always liked the pool and swimming and being in the water. So in 8th grade, my mom looked in to lifeguard training- turns out you have to be 15 to take the class. In 10th grade, I was old enough (15), but I was recovering from knee surgery and couldn't swim breaststroke (like, at all- and one of the requirements to take the class is that you have to swim 100 yards breaststroke). In 11th grade, I could almost sort of swim breaststroke, but I had wayyyy too much homework.

But I figured that this year- senior year- would be a good time to do my lifeguard training. The classes are 5:30-9:30pm, Tuesday and Thursday, so not much time for homework (or tv watching) on those days.

I arrived at the pool at 7:30pm last Monday to take the pre-test. I was totally prepared to swim 300 yards continuously (100 yards free, 100 yards breast, 100 of either) and swim 20 yards, surface dive, grab a 10 pound brick, swim to the other side, and get out of the pool within 1 minute 40 seconds.

It turns out we also had to tread water for 5 minutes without using our hands. This wasn't on the website, but whatever. I have a "secret" for easily treading water without using my hands- I use the eggbeater kick. I learned how to do it when I took synchronized swimming classes at the YMCA (when I was in 3rd grade, for all of... a few months). It's so much easier (at least I think so), because you're "sitting" in the water, as opposed to just being straight up-and-down vertical.

I passed the test, thankfully, and the next night, I went to the first class. So far, it's been going well.

Class #1- We spent a lot of time in the class room, learning about safety and things. In addition to "lecture", we watching Red Cross lifeguarding videos, which I'd say can be accurately compared to Driver's Ed videos. When we got to the pool, we learned 3 different entries- slide-in entry, stride jump, and compact jump. We also got to jump in and swim with the rescue tube. The rescue tube is the red foam thing that lifeguards always carry that looks like this:Rescue tubes are actually extremely buoyant. These things can keep you and two (or three) of your buddies afloat- making them very helpful for rescues.

Class #2- We learned more about safety and general procedures and "patron surveillance" (that's the technical term for watching people in the pool). When we got to the pool, we practiced rotating (that's the technical term for when one person's shift ends and the next person has to come and take over).

Class #3- In the classroom, we learned about procedures in case of an emergency, and rescues. In the pool, we learned how to rescue both active and passive drowning victims at the surface, fake-whistle and all. In addition to learning how to rescue, we each had to take turns pretending to be the victim. It's kind of weird "pretending to drown" when you're not actually, you know, drowning.

Class #4- We took the first written test, on basically everything we've learned so far (thankfully, I passed). Then we learned about more types of rescues in the video. Once we got to the pool, we learned how to actually perform multiple victim rescues, and shallow-water submerged victim rescues. Being one of the victims in the multiple victim rescue was interesting. My fellow victim and I basically had to be on top of each other ("Grab each other around the neck!" the instructor said. or something), which was awkward. Doing the submerged victim rescue was challenging, as you have to let go of the rescue tube to get the victim, then put the tube under the victim. Luckily, I was able to do it.

Next week, we're learning about first aid and CPR- we already got our "student first aid kits" and CPR masks- and probably AED, too. In addition to getting "lifeguard" certification, I'll also become certified in first aid, and CPR/AED for the professional rescuer. Lifeguarding and first aid certification is valid for three years, and CPR/AED for the professional rescuer (as opposed to normal person CPR) is valid for one year. Last August, I was certified in CPR/AED for the professional rescuer, but I've pretty much forgotten, well, everything, so it's good that I'm getting certified again.

There will be a written test for CPR/AED/first aid, and then (at least) one more written test (final exam) for lifeguarding (on the last day of the class). On the last day, we'll also have a "practical exam". I'm kinda nervous for that, but I'm glad I'll (hopefully!- assuming I pass) become a certified lifeguard.

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