As pools around the Valley begin to open for the summer, lifeguards from Ceres and neighboring cities to perfect their life-saving skills at Friday morning's fifth annual California Park and Recreation Society's Aquatic Training for District 5 lifeguards. Approximately 120 lifeguards gathered at the Johansen High School pool in east Modesto to work on their ability to prevent and save swimmers from drowning, as well as their capability to work efficiently with emergency responders in crisis situations.
Lifeguards took part in advanced training sessions that develop skills such as primary assessment of a victim, CPR, shallow and deep water rescues and on-deck care. District 5 covers parts of Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Tuolumne and Merced counties and lifeguards from eight different cities attended the training session: Ceres, Modesto, Patterson, Turlock, Manteca, Escalon, Riverbank and Oakdale. Lifeguards employed by the Stanislaus County Police Activities League were in attendance as well.
"This allows us to standardize the training for all of the cities and get our lifeguards geared up for the aquatics season," explained city of Ceres Recreation Manager Traci Farris.
Farris and supervisors for the other cities' departments have worked together to prepare and plan for the upcoming swim season, ensuring that every lifeguard has been trained properly and is prepared to watch people in water. To help, they enlisted the service of Pete DeQuincy of the East Bay Regional Park District, a veteran lifeguard of 30 years who worked with the Red Cross to develop current lifeguard course curriculum.
"Today we're really focusing on teamwork and working with a sense of urgency," said DeQuincy. "Then, we move into a transition of rescue, extrication, providing care on deck and then meeting with the fire department."
The Modesto Fire Department was on hand to teach the guards how to properly pass a drowning victim off to emergency personnel, which is the final stage of the training to help lifeguards rescue a victim in 40 seconds or less. Lifeguards of all skill levels participated in the training, from first-year to guards to veterans.
"We want to integrate them to do the same thing and have the same skill set, which is the reason why they've all been brought together," said DeQuincy.
DeQuincy and other seasoned lifeguards were in the water during the training, assisting the younger guards in exercises that included rescuing victims from the bottom of the pool, pulling them onto the deck via stretcher and giving them immediate care.
"It's really just a great opportunity for the lifeguards to enhance their skills," said Karen Packwood, Recreation senior supervisor for the city of Turlock. "It also gives them the opportunity to meet other lifeguards from the other agencies."
DeQuincy emphasized the importance of safe swimming practices.
"Swim near a lifeguard, always swim in a supervised area, watch your kids and always wear a life jacket if you can't swim," said DeQuincy.