LEARNING TO LIFEGUARD
Three MMA seniors – Oscar Cortada, Weitao Cong and Fahad Aliev – studied and swam for nearly 40 hours over four days to earn their lifeguard certification.
Stopping only for meals, cadets trained from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, September 11; from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, September 12; and from 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 13 to 4 a.m. on Monday, September 14.
Cadets met the requirements to earn a two-year Red Cross Life Guard Qualification. Challenges included a CPR/AED course, a 300-meter swim, a brick test, and a two-minute endurance test in which students treaded water without their hands.
HOW TO SAVE A LIFE, by Drake Davis ’16
I got my lifeguarding certification from the American Red Cross in the summer of 2014 in Rolla, Missouri.
I was saved while on vacation when I was a kid. That day, I experienced the thoughts that run through the minds of those struggling to stay above water. I started going down due to my inability to stay above water. I started submerging and was terrified. I felt a hand, then an arm come across my chest to my armpit, bringing me back up and returning to the shoreline. I started crying when I got out. I was shocked but so grateful for the lifeguard (hero) that saved my life. That was my game changer, and I made up my mind to eventually pursue the job of a lifeguard when I got older.
When I accomplished the goal I set out for, I knew it was my turn to share the abilities I had learned and help people that struggled in the water. I worked at an indoor swimming pool called The Centre and an outdoor swimming pool called Splash Zone for half a year.
Eventually, a place that I was familiar with turned into a public water park. It was a quarry owned by the chief of police of Rolla. I swam there when I was a bit younger. The police kids and their families would come and hang out. The chief asked me to come out there and lifeguard. I was stoked.
When I showed up to the quarry, formally known as Fugitive Beach, I saw there were other lifeguards around the age of 20. They introduced themselves to me. The head lifeguard took us to the 15ft and 20ft cliffs to practice scenarios: submerged drowning victims, struggled swimmers, and swimmers injured from the contact with the water. All of which I’m trained for. I’m also trained for CPR.
After training, which went on every day before and after work for about three weeks, I was in a routine. Mondays through Fridays, we saw around 1000 to 1500 people. The highest record was 4,567 people if I remember correctly. We had 8 lifeguards that day, but we were so busy. I remember my eyes constantly looking everywhere. I have made a total of 8 drowning victim saves and one CPR save this year.
The CPR save was towards the end of my lifeguarding at the quarry. A week before coming to MMA, when I was on my 15 minute break, I was in the break room with my walkie-talkie. I heard that a guy had experienced low blood sugar due to diabetes. I took off running through the sand on the beach, making my way to Tim, who was hunched over in a seat and unresponsive to communication.
I told the civilians around me to back up and told another lifeguard to get an umbrella to cover him from the sun. I saw a civilian with some juice and got one. Unable to drink from the straw, he fell head first in the sand. I kept him up as much as possible. While he was on the ground, I laid his body in the Haines position and elevated his feet.
Two nurses that were swimming there came up and identified themselves at this time. They started cooling him off with wet, cold rags. I was laying in the sand next to him talking to him, keeping him listening, just looking for signs. He then stopped breathing and I knew what had to be done. Not wearing my fanny pack, which has my respiratory mask in it, I started doing mouth-to-mouth.
I had a nurse assist me in a two-person CPR rescue. As I did my two initial breaths, she did her thrusts. Going on around three rounds, I gave my breaths and he received a pulse. I started tearing up, but pulled it together knowing I had to stay strong.
We put him back in the Haines position. I kept talking to him, telling him the ambulances were going to be here soon and to keep listening to the sound of my voice. Repeatedly I told him him he was going to be okay, to hang in there. I told him to give me a good deep breath in hopes of a sign. I saw his lungs expand and was so happy to see his response. I kept having him do that until the ambulance arrived.
After he was lifted off, I went back into the break room and started tearing up. It reminded me of when I saw my grandma die in front of me. I wish I would have known CPR then. I got sent home, but was getting handshakes from a lot of people. I found out later from my dad that Tim had survived and sent me his gratitude. I will never forget that day.