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Posted on: August 12, 2020

Lifeguards work with EMS on emergency response training

Lifeguards and emergency response personnel load a girl on a backboard into an ambulance.

Lifeguards at the Roosevelt Aquatic Center brushed up on their skills by training alongside Emergency Medical Services personnel in July. The two groups worked together to practice procedures for in-water rescues that might end with ambulance calls.

EMS Director Von Johnson visited the aquatic center to give lifeguards an opportunity to practice emergency procedures like calling 911, assisting EMS as they arrive on scene, and loading patients in the ambulance for transport.

“You’ll be on the phone with dispatch for a while,” Johnson told the guards. “They’ll have a few questions before they dispatch the ambulance, and some follow-up questions when we’re on our way.”

Johnson played the part of the dispatch official to give lifeguards a good idea of the questions they will be asked and prepare them to respond appropriately in an emergency.

The group practiced multiple rescue scenarios, with some individuals taking the role of lifeguards and others roleplaying as pool patrons. They practiced in-water rescues of patients with spinal injuries, an infant in need of CPR, and an unresponsive drowning victim. They trained in the indoor and outdoor pools and practiced directing EMS to the correct entrance and assisting them on arrival. In addition to this training, lifeguards train monthly to review rescue skills, CPR, first aid, conditioning, and more.

Johnson taught lifeguards that sometimes EMS will immediately load and transport a patient, but most often, they will stay on scene and work on the patient until they get a response—usually the restoration of breathing or a pulse.

“It used to be that we’d just load and go, but we’ve learned that outcomes for patients are actually better if we stay on scene and keep working until we get a response,” said Johnson. “We can do almost everything on site that they can do in the emergency room.”

This may mean that lifeguards will work alongside EMS for 40 minutes to an hour in the event of an emergency. The only exception is with small children.

"With infants, that’s when we want to load and go as quickly as possible," Johnson said.

This training exercise occurs each year and gives both EMS and lifeguards a great chance to learn how to work together in the event of a real emergency.

"We want to know that everything will run smoothly if something happens and you do need to call us," Johnson said.