I worked for two years as a beach lifeguard. First off, being a beach guard is no joke. Unlike pool lifeguards, we actually do deal with life-and-death rescues often.
You know how when you go to the beach you frequently see the lifeguards running around in their short shorts, doing push ups, training in the water, and practicing rescues? Sure, some of that is for show to make the patrons feel safe and pick up babes (or dudes). But that training is also necessary in order to our jobs. Pulling a panicked, half-suffocated obese person from the water back to the shore, while dealing with surf, riptides, undertows, etc., is fucking hard. You have to practice it, you have to train for it, and you have to know god damn well what you’re doing. AND you have to have back up.
You know what the first thing drowning people do when a lifeguard gets to them? They try to use you as a ladder or a raft. If they can, they will wrap their arms around your neck so tight you won’t be able to breath. Or they might grab onto you and take you down with them. And that’s just one victim. The problem is exacerbated when there are multiple victims in the water. This is why we have equipment to help us do our jobs - namely, our buoys (the red things that look like giant suppositories, made famous a la Baywatch).
We were actually trained to use the buoys to beat the victim into submission if they won’t cooperate, but typically we give the victim the buoy to hang on to so they don’t drown us.
I have been on dozens of rescues. Even with all the training, equipment, and support from other lifeguards, every rescue is difficult and has the potential to end in disaster. I cannot imagine what must have happened when this guy, who didn’t know how to swim and wasn’t trained in proper lifesaving techniques, went in to rescue not one but two victims, without equipment, and without help from others. Please leave these things to the professionals. And if there are no professionals around, well, it’s better to have one drowning than two.
I tend to agree with you. If I were to step in on any “rescue” situation my honest feeling is that I’m putting my life on the line on the chance I can save someone else’ life. I understand lifeguards do this but isn’t their training designed to teach them how to do this while keeping themselves as safe as possible? I’m fully aware that if I were attempt to aid someone, I don’t have that training and am putting myself at much higher risk than a lifeguard would… but I’m O.K. with that. I look at it just like I would if I were to step in when someone was getting brutally beaten and robbed. I’m no cop or fighter … but I believe it to be the right thing to do to help someone.. so that’s what I’ll do… and accept the responsibility therein.
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