I have been a lifeguard for 4 years and in that time I have not saved a single person on the job. I have saved a grown woman in a pool that was 4 feet deep because she could not figure out how to stand up, but I was teaching swim lessons and not lifeguarding so that doesn’t count. However, two weeks ago I had my first and second save. They were both wearing life jackets so it is debatable if they count but, I am going to count them because they probably will be my only saves as a lifeguard.
I was doing a private lifeguarding gig at this large pond and was standing on the dock watching the water making sure none of the kids who were all wearing life jackets drowned. An hour or two into the day I notice a little girl (4 or 5 years old) crying a few feet away from the dock. Her “friend” that she was playing with swam off and she was left all alone and couldn’t get back to shore.
Noticing this helpless girl I extend my tube and told her to grab on as I pulled her to the dock and brought her up on dry land. Being petrified from her terrifying experience in the “huge lake” the girl kept crying even when she was safe on dry land. I calmed her down, we exchanged names, ages, and favorite colors and I asked if she wanted to go see her mom. Obviously she said yes. The only issue was that the parents were on the other side of the pond. So instead of walking the quarter mile with this little girl, I commandeered a canoe from some of the kids, put her in it, and we paddled to her mom. They were re-united and lived happily ever after, completing my first save ever.
I had about an hour left in my day, and aside from eating a delicious lunch of Doritos and hot dogs the day had been rather uneventful after the mother daughter reunion. That was until I see the 8 kids launching a canoe but only taking one paddle with them. The boy in charge paddled out to the middle of the pond and then had the genius idea of jumping out of the canoe and swimming away with the sole paddle in hand. Leaving his 7 other friends stranded. After laughing and admiring the kids whit, I grabbed a few extra paddles, commandeered another canoe, and rescued the stranded and angry boaters.
On my way back to the dock I notice a kid flailing his arms trying to “swim” but not going anywhere. Minus the life jacket he was portraying textbook drowning. I rowed over to him and asked if he needed help. Without answering he grabs onto my canoe so violently that I nearly flipped over. I ask if he could shimmy to the back of the canoe because he was right where I needed to paddle. But he didn’t respond and judging from his death grip and wide eyed stare I assumed that he was not going to move. I slide to the front of the canoe and begin to drag him to the dock.
Once we reached the dock I helped him grab onto the ladder and then prepared to set out again and rescue a canoe that was sinking faster than the Titanic. However, before I could push off the dock my whole world turned sideways, and I felt my face hit the chill of the pond water and I instinctively held my breath as the canoe toppled over me. I surfaced and begin to swim the sunken canoe to the shore. which is incredibly hard wearing a pair of Sperry’s.
Once to the shore, I grab another canoe and go save the kids that were hopelessly trying to salvage there sunken ship. As I was paddling I played the situation over in my head and figured out how I ended up in the water under my boat. The kid that I had just rescued decided to use my canoe as an additional step to help him climb out of the pond. Which caused my canoe to turn so fast that I was in the water before I knew what had happened. Hindsight, I should’ve been a better lifeguard and waited until he was completely on dry land before going to make another rescue. Apparently ladders are complicated for 10-year-olds.
So I challenge you to never let your guard down until the situation is completely over, because even though the situation may be almost over something can happen at the last possible second that will cause you to fall into a cold lake. (For you the lake is a metaphor.) As always, make good choices, share if you like what I said, comment if you have something to add, and I will see on Saturday.