Weatherford Democrat

July 23, 2013

Lifeguards, WFD team up for training


Weatherford Democrat

By BRIAN SMITH

From the street, it appeared to be a normal morning at Cherry Park Pool, young people, adults and toddlers splashing around and enjoying the cool water before the heat of the day set in. For a while, it was. As is with life, however, things can change in a heartbeat.

A young man told lifeguards he was having problems moving and had some form of spinal injury. In what seemed to be no time, pool lifeguards worked together as a team, evacuating the pool and moving as one well-trained unit to secure the young man, ensure his safety and get emergency personnel to the pool as soon as possible.  Emergency personnel were hindered for a while, as cars were illegally parked in the fire lane.

In less than six minutes from the time the call was made, lifeguards had secured the youth to a board, taking all necessary precautions to ensure no further injury was caused, and EMS personnel were on the scene preparing for transport to the hospital.

In a show of tremendous teamwork from everyone involved, lifeguards and Weatherford Fire Department employees took part in a mock rescue during a Friday training exercise.

Weatherford Parks and Recreation Athletic and Aquatics Manager Tyler Sievert said the mutual training exercise went well.

“Except for a couple minor procedural things, everything went perfectly, which is what we like to see,” Sievert said. “ It’s a very good training exercise for my staff as well as the professional rescuers.”

The lifeguards had no idea what the situation would be beforehand or who they would be “saving.” Everything down to the finest detail was realistic, with lifeguards not directly involved in the rescue keeping onlookers away and referring media to the appropriate personnel.

Weatherford Fire Marshal Bob Hopkins said it took just over three minutes from the time the call was received to reach the scene. He said firefighters and EMS personnel normally like to leave the station within two to three minutes.

“Every kind of training, no matter what kind of training, helps us,” Hopkins said. “We want to make sure we’re perfect in everything, even the details.”

Hopkins had arranged for the cars to be in the fire lane to ensure the situation was as realistic as possible.  The pool having several people in it at the time of the emergency was also done for realism.

“The guys were able to improvise and make smart decisions,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins said Parks and Recreation officials, which run the pool, do a great job in training. Hopkins, a former pool lifeguard himself, admitted he “wished he would have had the training these kids have” when he was a lifeguard. 

Hopkins said when the training is solid, the rescue goes flawlessly.

“The human mind works well and people know what to do by instinct when the training is good,” Hopkins said.