Lifeguarding course helps students save lives

Suraj Khakee, Staff Writer

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The lifeguarding course is up and running again during spring PE trimester after a successful winter season. The course is now a possibility thanks to the renovated gymnasiums this year, and students have been taking advantage of it.

The class is led by Aquatics Director Thatcher Woodley, whose lifeguarding expertise is just one of the many talents he has brought to the school. He teaches a class that is both learning-intensive and fun at the same time, Paul Wang (11), who took the course during the winter trimester, said.

The class is based around the American Red Cross Lifeguarding curriculum, Woodley said.

Every other class is in the pool, while the rest are spent in the classroom doing more CPR training, Wang said.

Days in the pool are spent practicing different methods of saving drowning swimmers. Students learn the differences between passive rescues, in which a victim isn’t moving, and active rescues, in which the victim is moving, two different sets of challenges, Andrew Cassino (11) said.

Other lessons focus on protocols for when victims are oriented in different directions as well as lessons on submerged victims and the Emergency Action Protocol required, Cassino said.

The final test includes two practical performance-based components and two written tests, Woodley said. If a student passes that set of tests, then he or she is certified to lifeguard, he said.

However, achieving a certification is no easy task, Wang said. “The course was more difficult than I anticipated, but it was worth it because I definitely learned a lot,” he said. I now feel more qualified and confident if I need to help someone in need of assistance in the water.”

Students joined the program for a variety of reasons, and the PE department was excited to see interest across all grades, Woodley said.

“I thought it was valuable because I learned how to save people, which is something I’ve always felt is important,” Sean Koons (12) said.

The winter lifeguarding course had 13 participants, and the spring trimester will have five. Woodley believes this is a good start, but hopes that the numbers will grow, he said.

“I thought the course would be a great chance to utilize the new facilities and pool that we are privileged to have now,” Wang said.

“I decided to take lifeguarding because I think it’s an important skill to have and it’s good to know how to handle emergency situations if they present themselves,” Mckayla Widener (11) said

Other students recommend the course as an alternative to the monotonous cycle of PE every trimester.

“I think it’s a great way to insert variety into the PE program while offering a certification that can be useful outside of the school setting at the same time,” Cassino said.