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.

SONY DSCStopping 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.

17_cortadaCadets 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

ALIEVI 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.

IMG_3045_davisWhen 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.

IMG_3891_davisAfter 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.

IMG_0385_davisTwo 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.