Saturday, March 29, 2014

I'm a Certified Lifegaurd!


I just experienced an awesome four days of intense and extensive training to receive my Lifeguard certification.  Since I just starting teaching swimming lessons with SwimAmerica, I needed my Lifeguard certification (something that has always been a dream of mine) to be officially certified to teach (I had already completed my teacher training).  Each day was packed with swimming training (a fun physical challenge!) and also classroom work where we studied Advanced CPR/AED training.
I found it rather amusing to wake up every morning with a new set of sore muscles and find bruises all over the place from various rescues.  With swimming all morning, class all afternoon, and music practice in the evenings, it was sure tiring... one night my muscles were so sore I couldn't play my piece fast enough!

If you don't mind following what might become a lengthy post (which is partially for my own documentation) on my training experience, then read on!  (Oh, and there is a picture at the end, so do keep scrolling.  ;)  Hopefully I will post some more later.)

Day One
We kicked off the class with the prerequisites for the certification... swimming 300yards (well, we did that every morning for warmup), bringing up submerged bricks and swimming with them, treading water without hands, and getting rings without taking a breath.  After passing that, we moved onto starting Lifeguarding basics... and that was entering the water correctly.  And then we started basic rescues that consisted of knowing how to properly rescue a conscious or unconscious victim from either the front or back.
When our pool time was finished, we took off to Camp Namanu to do our classroom work.  The first day was just introducing the basics.
Best Moment: Practicing a Compact Entry by jumping off the lifeguard stand.

Day Two
Bright and early at the pool, we started out with our lap swimming warmup and then starting building on what we learned the previous day.  Rescuing submerged victims from off the bottom of the pool was the big one!  My partner was a girl who had taken the Lifeguard class three times, Lifeguarded before, and was overall very good.  Megan was very patient and really helped me grasp the concept.  Believe me, it took some time to figure out how to surface dive under the water, grab my victim, and hand over hand, pull both her and myself to the surface!  After lots of attempts and lots of breaks where Megan and I would be floating on the rescue tube together while talking with each other, I finally got it and after that, I could do it like second nature!  So... to get that unconscious victim onto the pool deck, we learned how to pull them out with a backboard and that was quite easy actually.  (Well, I've had experience with that--but that is a story for another day!)  The last skill we learned was affectionately called "Clobbering".  ;)  Since the victim will panic, it is very likely that they will grab the Lifeguard and pull them under, thus creating two victims.  Both Jordan and I practiced Clobbering each other and let's just say this much: I happen to be very good at getting people into headlocks.  Yep.  That sums it up.  (Oh, and Clobbering is exhuasting.)
Back to the camp for our classroom time... we started training in CPR.
Best Moment: After swimming my 300 meters, I climbed out of the pool to find that I had finished 1st out of the girls and 3rd over all.  Yes!  And I wasn't even trying to race.  ;)
Awesome Moment: While practicing Lifeguarding scenarios (two students volunteer to be the Lifeguards and then the instructor has the other students figure out what rescue to surprise them with), I got to volunteer as the extremely annoying kid that won't listen to anyone.  :D  Oh, that was fun!!!  After running on the pool deck, I told the other Lifeguard I would make a big splash when I jumped in... and after splashing her with that, I proceeded to splash her just for fun.  And then it all went downhill from there.  :P  Yes, I made sure to give her a few of those "I'm-so-annoying-and-you-can't-do-anything-about-it" smiles.  I loved every minute of it.  :P
Awkward Moment: After splitting into groups and learning how to perform rescues where you get your (unconscious) victim on a backboard and out of the pool, one of my group members turned to me and asked, "What do you and your siblings think of donuts?"  My brain was still on the complete training and I thought a "donut" must be some sort of rescue procedure, so I innocently asked, "What's a donut?"  She explained by putting her fingers together in a circle, "You know... like a... a donut."
Oh.  Yeah.  A donut.  (Yes, I don't eat donuts much--if at all!)

Day Three
After morning swim, we started learning how to care for a victim with a spinal injury and how to get them from the water (either submerged or surfaced), transfer them to a backboard, and to get them on the pool deck.  That was cold, slow, intense, and focused work... but it was rather fun to strap each other down to the backboard!  During one of our spinal injury rescue practices, I was the victim and the lifeguards were strapping me onto the backboard... one girl said, "Quick!  Strap her down so she can't get away!"
When we went back to camp, I passed my CPR/AED test and am now certified as a professional responder.
Rather Amusing Moment #1: When the two Lifeguards were "rescuing" me as an unconscious victim, they didn't get the backboard under me correctly to pull me out of the water.  So... the backboard slips out and the end up dragging me onto the pool deck.  Suddenly I regained consciousness as I laughed out loud!  
Rather Amusing Moment #2: One Lifeguard is trying to check my breathing and pulse (I'm the victim again).  She couldn't find my carotid pulse, so I was giving her a little help (no, victims usually don't help you out, so don't count on it).  I told her to feel my throat and slide her fingers down into the grove.  When she got it, I continued to talk and asked her if she could feel it.  "Stop talking."  She told me.  And that is when I realized my vocal vibration were getting a little too overbearing for her to feel my pulse!  ;)
Rather Amusing Moment #3: When working on a head splint for a victim with a spinal injury, the instructors were working one group for an example to the whole group.  As the main Lifeguard, I slid carefully into the pool so as to keep the water as still as possible, got my victim in the right position... and then slipped on the bottom of the pool and brought both me and my victim under the water.  :P
Okay, we are going to try that one more time! 

Day Four
The final day flew by with performing the most difficult rescues... Deep water backboarding and bring up submerged victims who have spinal injuries.  That was exhausting!  Pulling each other from the depths of the pool while holding the head very carefully was so hard to do.  My group of three had to take quite a few breaks and we often ending up choking on water.  ;)  During one rescue where I was Primary Lifeguard, I was elated to find that my Secondary Lifeguard said my rescue looked perfect!  That was worth the choking.  One of the girls in my group was not a strong swimmer, so she wasn't feeling too happy about going down.  We encouraged her to do what she could and that the best she could do was fine.  "Alissa," I said (I was going to rescue her as a victim). "I'll bring us both up to the top!"  The look she gave me was priceless!  Apparently she wasn't too sure of my reassurance and her face seemed to say, "Oh dear!".  Well, she did let me rescue her in the end... with a little more persuasion.  ;)  Deep water backboarding was all about treading water and there would be five of us around a backboard, treading water, and kicking each other because of the close proximity!  The final scenario was with a dummy and the instructor made it as real life as possible.
Class let out early at the camp.  I passed my Lifeguard test and also learned how to splint people.
Rather Amusing Moment: So we were treading water with the deep water backboarding.  Constantly.  Oh, and your victim has a spinal injury, so they must be held with their arms splinting their head to minimize further harm.  I have my victim in position and am swimming with her to keep her from sinking.  The other girls in my group are swimming over with the backboard and trying to chase me down to submerge it so that we can get our victim on it.  Well, I was swimming just a little too fast and finally one of the girls said, "Slow down, Bethany!  We can't catch up with you!"  Oh, yeah... teamwork!
Awesome Moment: One girl in our class refused to be the victim during the backboarding because in a previous class she did, the students accidentally dropped her back into the water... while she was strapped to the board... with her arms pinned to her sides!  It terrified her, so she didn't want to have it happen again.  Well, today I joking asked her if she was totally serious about not wanting to be the victim to which she replied, "Yes."  But after helping our team go through the process once she decided she would give it a try as long as the instructor kept a careful eye on us and her hands were not strapped down (which none of us were doing anyway).  When it was time to pull her out, I jumped out of the pool and reached down to grab the top of the backboard.  Her eyes looked at me very seriously as I tightened my grip and called, "Three, two, one!"  I gave her a good solid pull and brought her safely onto the pool deck.  She was thrilled to get over her fear!  :)
Hilarious Moment: During classroom time, we divided into groupd to talk about splinting (that is not the primary job of a Lifeguard, but if they need to do it, we know how).  After the three other members in the group thoroughly confused me with all their contradicting opinions ("No, that isn't quite right."  "Okay, your training must be different than mine!"  "Hey, you did that wrong!") I said, "I don't think I'm going to trust any of you on this one!"  They guy turned to me and said, "Actually, that's a pretty good point!"

That was a pretty good description of my week, but I thought I would throw in the top 9 hilarious happenings:
1) When I was a submerged victim, my rescuer (who happened to be Shiloh!) somehow ended up pushing down on me to grab the float and surface us.  I laughed out loud under water... and the quickly realized it I opened my mouth for another laugh, I would start to choke!

2) During one of our scenario practices, we decided to see how attentive the two Lifeguards on duty were.  Setting up a girl, we had her go over and start a conversation with one of the Lifeguards.  The girl totally fell for it and ended up having a conversation while the other Lifeguard was rescuing a victim! 

3) Our small group was learning to use the AED... but imagine our surprise when we turned the machine on to hear a voice speaking in Spanish!  Looking blankly at each other we laughed because we couldn't figure out what to do next.  It turned out that someone had pushed the "speak in Spanish" button.  One girl who was working in my group said, "I took six years of Spanish and I still can't understand a word of it!"

4) While assisting with a rescue, Shiloh was putting her gloves on after we both had pulled a girl out of the pool on a stretcher.  The girl thought that she was done being the victim, so she went to get up.  Before she had a chance to sit up, I gently pushed back onto the stretcher and said, "Oh, you can't wake up that fast!" (She was suppose to be unconscious.)  When I turned back to look at her a few seconds later, she was cracking up hysterically.  So much for being unconscious!  Well, laughter is good medicine...

5) I found out quickly what it is like to get your finger pinned between the stretcher and the pool deck.  Helplessly I crouched by the backboard while the other Lifeguard started checking our victim.  Finally she heard my cries for help and released me from my imprisonment.

6) After pulling out a victim on a backboard, I knelt beside her to check her vitals.  I got her pulse, but when I went to hear her breathing I said, "And... she is holding her breath!"  At that moment she let out a laugh.  "Okay, she's fine!"

7) Let's just say that when our exhausted trio took a break from practicing submerged spinal injury victims, I felt like we were shipwrecked sailors or something!  All three of us clutched the rescue float and breathlessly hung on for dear life.

8) We practiced splinting one girl's legs together... and then made her stand up!

9) I can always pick out a fellow violinist.  Enough said.

Totally thrilled that I am a Lifeguard!

So I don't usually do blog posts that long... but if you are still reading this, I'm really proud of you for sticking with it!  And I hope you enjoyed everything.  :)

One last thought... Because the people I learned with were mostly secular, I prayed that my life would shine and they would see that I am a Christian.  I prayed for each of my classmates as well.  I will probably never see them again, so it made me think... did I make an impact on their lives?  Did they see that I serve a true and holy God?  I thought about Matthew 5:14 and 5:16 "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid."  "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."  Talking time was limited due to our tight class schedule, so I wondered if my actions pointed to Christ.
Today I just "happened" to come across a song by Keith Green on my mp3 player that I have never listened to before.  Curiosity got the better of me (it usually does) and I decided to give it a listen.  The first few phrases caught me:

Take some time, make a friend of a stranger
Touch a hand, just reach out, there's no danger
When there's love, mountains move
The blind can see and things improve
Don't be afraid to take the lead
And be the first to plant a seed
And then just watch it grow, don't you know that now

 That was it!  Living out the life a Christian should speak volumes.  You are different than the world and people are going to notice.  I rejoiced to think that the things I did that might seem insignificant to me--the highfives I gave to my partners, the smiles and friendly "hellos", the encouraging or thankful words ("Hey, thanks so much for helping me out with that rescue!  I finally got the hang of it."), and just taking the time to talk with my classmates and ask them about what they do--are really those little things that will make big differences in their lives.  Who knows?  Maybe the Lord used me to plant a seed in the heart... and the next person that crosses their path will water that seed... and then next thing you know, they have excepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!

It's an exciting life, Friends... Shine for Jesus!


Jordan Strang said...

Yeah! It was an awesome week and I'm thinking it's totally awesome to be a life guard now!!!

I know what you mean... God's had all the people on my heart for the last few days... I thinking He wants me to keep them in prayer.

And you never know... We might run into Erin sometime... That's not far fetched! But then it wouldn't really be far fetched for us to run into any of them!!! That's kind of the way it works with us!

Bethany said...

Yep... same here. :) I'll definitely be keeping them in prayer.

Ha ha! Right... and if we don't meet again here on earth, perhaps in heaven one day!

Christianna Hellwig said...

I loved reading every word, Bethany! What an exciting week!

Bethany said...

Thank you, Christianna! Yes, it was very exciting. :D I'm glad you enjoyed it!