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Entering Summer with a Splash: Staples Student Life Guards Protect the Public

Suzanne Kleine ’11
News Editor

Summertime is a season of leisure: swimming in the pool, lying on the sand, and trying to get the perfect tan. Some students like Maddie Mafilios  ’11, plan to spend their summer watching these swimmers and lifeguarding.

Student life guards work under extreme pressure, and must know exactly what to do in any number of situations. Mafilios describes heatstroke as a common occurrence. In that scenario, she must first give the victim some sugar, and takes them to a cool place to regroup. She also calls 911 and is in charge of making the person as comfortable as possible. Another emergency was when a child began to have seizures in the pool. Mafilios calmly called 911, and got him out of the pool in “a safe and orderly fashion.”

Jenn Hoets ’11, another student lifeguard, has also had these experiences. Although she admits that she was scared in the beginning, she quickly got used to it, “When you’re new and something happens you get scared,” she said, “but after working for a while or a couple of years you become jaded.” Hoets has been on duty when a woman broke her hip, and “went through our checklist procedure,” which includes contacting the EMS.

Life guarding is a huge responsibility, and the training that these students receive certainly reflects that. In order to become certified, one has to take a course that covers basic first aid, such as CPR, as well as specialized water-front skills that are integral to their jobs. These students also need to take a physical and written test, to show their knowledge of both the techniques and procedures of actions that they might need to take.

Lifeguards train for many different situations, including strokes, heatstroke, neck and spinal injuries, and other emergency actions that they may need to take in the pool environment. In order to keep their responses fast and their reaction times minimal, lifeguards take half hour shifts, in which they switch off with another life guard.

While on these shifts, one is still working. “Sometimes you clean up around the pool area and make sure the patrons are following all the rules and aren’t in need of assistance,” Mafilios said.

Despite all of the responsibilities that these students have, it can also be a great job for those who like to spend time outside and by the pool.

“It’s one of the best jobs around,” Hoets said, “We have a lot of fun, but you also have to know your stuff and be professional.”

Mafilios agrees, and also loves her job, “It’s a fun job and you get to meet lots of new people while helping the public stay safe.”

The job is clearly very unique. Hoets describes “touching people’s blood everyday” and “working out” as duties specific to life guarding. The training in order to get to this point is very extensive, so that all certified life guards know how to help a person in an emergency situation.

After all their training, it may seem like there is nothing a student life guard can’t do. However, there is one remaining hygienic problem, Mafilios said. “We can’t really control whether or not people pee in the pool unless we can see it.”

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