Lifeguards Jack Benson (left), Keenan Siminski (center), and Nicole Ellingson (right) receive instruction about how to handle their “injured” swimmer, Harrison Speltz. PHOTO: MARLENE DESCHLER/ SPRING GROVE HERALD<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->
Lifeguards Jack Benson (left), Keenan Siminski (center), and Nicole Ellingson (right) receive instruction about how to handle their “injured” swimmer, Harrison Speltz. PHOTO: MARLENE DESCHLER/ SPRING GROVE HERALD

Many children and families enjoy spending hot summer days at the Spring Grove SWIM Center. Watching over swimmers at the SWIM Center making sure all are as safe as possible are lifeguards. Most swim seasons come and go with little incidence or few emergencies, but to be prepared for an emergency the lifeguards and staff participate in a mock drill each season.

"It is very important to do drills like these because these are incidents that can happen at our pool," commented Michaela Neuzil, SWIM Center manager. "We have a great new staff that came in this year so we wanted to make sure new employees and a little more experienced employees worked together and were comfortable with how to perform a C-spine recuse specifically at our pool because all pools are different."

The mock drill took place on Saturday evening, June 14. The evening was stormy, but the drill went on as soon as the conditions were safe with no lightening even though the rain and wind continued.

"During the EMS mock drill, we wanted it to be as realistic as possible - music playing, guards guarding, slide attendant on top of the slides, front desk and concession workers working, and people swimming," explained Neuzil. "We had employees act as swimmers and they were given specific tasks to distract the guards. For example, some were to break the rules by running around, by climbing up the slide, et cetera. The kids in the water knew only their own role. It was up to the guards to decide where the rescue was going to take place because they didn't know who was going to get injured and at what area of the pool."

The drill benefited not only the lifeguards giving them a near real-life situation to practice, but also was good for the other staff/non-lifeguard employees because they also have a role in an emergency situation from being responsible for calling 911 and providing information to the dispatcher as well as unlocking the EMS gate and making sure there is a clear pathway for the EMS to arrive at the pool. They also need to know how to control the other swimmers so that the rescue can be safely completed.

The mock drill was planned and coordinated by Neuzil, Travis Edgrington (Water Safety Education instructor and lifeguard), Lorilyn Dehning (pool liaison from the city council), and Kristy Folz (Spring Grove Ambulance member).

Lifeguarding skills are useful skills that a person takes with them for a lifetime. Edgrington is teaching lifeguard classes at the Spring Grove SWIM Center June 23, 24, 30 and July 1 and 2. Another session will be July 28 - August 1. He is also conducting WSI certification July 21 - 25. Anyone interested in becoming a lifeguard and earning their WSI certification can contact the SWIM Center at (507) 498-SWIM (7946). or Dehning at (507) 498-3458(507) 498-3458.