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Lifeguards perfect their skills at regional training
Lifeguard pic 3
Lifeguards pull a victim onto the pool deck by way of stretcher during an exercise at the California Park and Recreation Societys Aquatic Training for District Five on Friday. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

As pools around the valley begin to open for the summer, local lifeguards were able to perfect their life-saving skills Friday morning at the fifth annual California Park and Recreation Society’s Aquatic Training for District Five lifeguards. Around 120 lifeguards gathered at the Johansen High School pool in 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 of District 5 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,” said 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 each and every lifeguard has been trained properly and is prepared to watch over the 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.”

According to Packwood, the lifeguards from Turlock have been training all week and Friday’s session was a culmination of the skills they have learned – just in time for the opening of Columbia Pool on Saturday. Though the City of Turlock has completed hiring lifeguards for this aquatics season, those interested in patrolling the city’s pools next summer can contact the Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Department at 209-668-5594.

For those looking to beat the heat by way of swimming this summer, 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.