By Tazanyia Mouton, USAG-Natick Public AffairsJune 27, 2013
NATICK, Mass. (June 27, 2013) -- It's that time of year again -- time for fun in the sun and endless hours by the pool.
But before we head for the multi-colored swimwear, sunscreen and floaties, we have to make sure that we swim as safely as possible this summer.
With this in mind, the Gibson Pool staff held its Lifeguard Emergency Action Plan, or EAP, training here at the Natick Soldier Systems Center June 26.
"The purpose of the EAP drill is to sharpen the skills of our lifeguard staff," said Sherita Baker, Gibson Pool manager and special events coordinator for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, or FMWR.
"We want to make sure that they know how to utilize the training they received for their certification in a constructive and life-saving manner," said Baker.
With a series of real-life scenarios, the lifeguards' skills were put to the test.
The first scenario involved the lifeguards rotating to rescue an injured person from the pool. Lifeguards threw either a ring buoy or a life hook to assist the swimmer.
Baker demonstrated the exercise, making sure to always communicate with the swimmer to see if further assistance was needed.
The lifeguards also trained up on how to remove people from the pool who might not be able to remove themselves, using another lifeguard tool, a spine board.
In his third summer here at Gibson Pool, lifeguard Tyler Page said he feels the training exercise went well.
"I feel good," said Page. "I think the training definitely helped so if anything does happen, we'll be ready for it."
Each year, 6,500 children and adolescents nationally are taken to the hospital because of diving-related injuries. Eighty percent of injuries also occur in shallow water of four feet or less.
"We have implemented a 'feet first for safety' approach to our pool," said Baker. "What we are trying to accomplish is education in a fun and interactive way.
"Our facility is a 'feet first' facility; there is no diving at Gibson Pool."
Oftentimes, swimmers misjudge the water depth and believe they have enough room to dive into a pool. Also, the ledge may make the water appear deeper than it actually is.
"Pool enclosures have many inherent dangers, including the risk of electrocutions due to weather or equipment, heart attack victims, or traumatic injury due to unsafe activity from patrons," Baker said.
Too often, swimmers sometimes will 'horse-play' around the pool. Baker stressed the importance of the lifeguards taking charge to discourage such activity.
In the final training scenario of the day, a swimmer fell into the pool after playing around the pool's ledge. With a two-person lifeguard team on watch, one lifeguard began assisting the injured swimmer by entering the water with a rescue tube while the second lifeguard cleared the pool.
Working together, the lifeguards were able to focus in and help the simulated victim.
As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. And this practice can ensure everyone that the lifeguards will be prepared for whatever is thrown their way during the summer months.
"I think it's gotten us ready for the summer," said Anna Euller, a first-year Gibson Pool lifeguard. "Now we really know what we're doing and how to work together."
Baker said she was confident that the training kicked her crew into gear.
"They did a really good job," said Baker. "We're going to spend the rest of the summer continuing our training to get better."
Baker plans on executing drills for the lifeguards once a week along with mandatory training that will be performed each month.