By Skylar Reestman
Being a lifeguard may seem like an easy job to some. What can be better than soaking up the sun, taking a dip into the cold pool, and having a relaxing day? However, the job is so much more than just getting a good tan. It’s a job that can save a life.
As it is American Heart Awareness month, it is important to recognize the duties and responsibilities that lifeguards serve in protecting those who wish to cool down during the hot summer days.
Many high schoolers decide to take up lifeguarding as their summer job. Theanna Dunn, a senior at Elgin Public Schools, chose lifeguarding 2 years ago as a great starter job that would give her the flexibility to work around other activities she has in the summer. However, she soon realized you couldn’t just become a lifeguard, it actually takes training. “You have to watch a lot of ideas and take tests after. We have to take CPR training and pass a swimming test” she said, which is all done under the direction of Elgin City Pool manager Sue Vanis. Training and testing to become a lifeguard is very important. It prepares the future lifeguards for any emergency that can happen at the pool. It shows the lifeguards-to-be how to perform the tasks and tests them to see if they are capable of performing them.
Vanis has been a certified lifeguard for the past 45 years, beginning when she was 15, and she has managed the Elgin City Pool for well over 30 years. Part of her job description includes training the future lifeguards. Through the American Red Cross, lifeguards must be 15 years of age and Vanis takes the lifeguards-to-be and trains them with the prerequisites. The physical activities they do for training includes swimming 200 consecutive yards, treading for 2 minutes, and being able to dive for a 10 pound brick. Along with that, they must take classes for lifeguarding that include book work, hold and rescues, and CPR and first aid training.
Over the years, she has found that finding lifeguards for the city pool has become more difficult with all the opportunities given to kids now. “Back when I was young we had two options”, she said, “to become a lifeguard or detassel in the field.” When she managed the pool 20 years ago, she believed there were more lifeguards than they were able to hire. Within the past 5-10 years, finding lifeguards has become tough. However she still believes it is a great summer job for kids. “It gives kids the opportunity to spend time with younger kids, they get to swim and have exercise and be in the outdoors.” She also notes how being a lifeguard is a role model position and making an impact on younger kids during swim lessons. Vanis encourages many young teenagers to take the lifeguard training classes as it is a great job for the summer.
Dunn went into a bit more detail on the life of a lifeguard. “Being a lifeguard is a lot of fun. The hours are good. It is fun working at the pool and being able to have fun with kids.” As she spoke of the benefits of being a lifeguard, including getting a nice tan and playing with kids, she also explained that it is a lot of work – from training, vacuuming out the pool, cleaning, watching kids, etc. For the past two years, Theanna said she was able to gain a lot of work experience and skills and encourages a number of other high school students looking for a summer job to consider applying.
As she and Vanis show, being a lifeguard isn’t as glamorous and relaxing as it may sound and requires lots of training. Our city pool is fortunate to have lifeguards who will utilize their work ethic and dedication to the responsibilities of a lifeguard and keep up our local pool. We should be thankful to have these lifeguards doing exactly what the job description says, guarding and protecting our lives by being prepared and trained for any case scenario.