Lifeguards train and train for the day they have to rescue someone, but wonder if they will really know what to do if and when that day comes.
After last week’s rescue at the Waynewood Recreation Center, several lifeguards no longer have to wonder.
Under the direction of Jordan Loveless, a mid-afternoon rescue was performed. It happened around 3:30 p.m. last Wednesday, Aug. 24. Loveless was the manager on duty; she was sitting in the lifeguard chair at the main pool. She noticed a girl who had been playing with her friends in the deep end, struggling to get up to the top.
“She was climbing but not getting anywhere,” Loveless said.
Emergency training kicked in. Loveless counted to 7, and then gave three short blasts on her whistle and dove in. She brought the girl up to the surface and rolled her onto the rescue tube. She asked if the girl was conscious and the girl responded.
“She was breathing, but had a weak pulse,” Loveless said.
Sydney Smith, who was the lifeguard coming on duty, ran to get the backboard.
“When I heard her [Jordan] blow the whistle, my mind froze and I wasn’t sure what to do at first. Then I ran to get the backboard. Jordan told me the girl was OK and I helped get her out of the pool. When it was all over, I thought I can’t believe this happened.”
PAUL DISSELKOEN was the lifeguard on duty at the lap pool. When he heard the whistles, he immediately cleared the lap pool and came over to the main pool to assist.
“Jordan was in the water and had gotten the girl up,” Disselkoen said. “I helped to get the girl out of the water and onto the deck. Once we got her out of the water, we could calm down and think what to do. It was hard to concentrate because it happened so fast. I’m glad that Jordan saw her and got her out of the water.”
This isn’t the first rescue that Loveless has participated in. When she was a lifeguard in Long Beach, Calif., she rescued a boy who was caught in the undertow and gave him CPR. She was also involved in another search and rescue of a girl who was later found on shore. And last year, she assisted a fellow student at West Potomac High School who had a seizure.
“I saw a group of people and thought it was a fight,” Loveless said. “Then I heard people saying, ‘Why isn’t somebody doing anything?’”
She realized that the girl was having a seizure; she was still conscious, and Loveless did the initial checking and stayed with her until the ambulance arrived.
THE ONLY THING that didn’t appear to be a textbook performance was the amount of time it took the emergency crew to respond. Reportedly a patron called 911 shortly after the girl was rescued. Several people thought that it took anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes for the team to respond. It wasn’t clear if they realized that it was no longer an emergency situation.
Loveless said that after the girl was rescued, Matt Szemborski, a pool manager who arrived during the rescue, got her to walk to the back room. She was stumbling so they sat her down and gave her some water. Drew Smith, who had been in the back room, also assisted.
“When the paramedics arrived, they asked her how she was feeling and what happened,” Disselkoen said. She was taken to INOVA Mount Vernon Hospital where she was evaluated and released. The parents of the girl, a 12-year-old from Stratford Landing, were contacted and advised to meet the girl at the hospital.
Marjorie Stickell was at the pool when it happened and said, “What I saw was a lifeguard in the water and then another girl with a board. The pool was cleared — all the children sat on the side and were very quiet. Everybody applauded when the girl came up. It was very impressive. I was amazed and very pleased.” Stickell had been a member of the pool for the past 40 years and had never seen an emergency situation except when a tornado hit many, many years ago.
Another patron, Meg Silva, said, “It happened so quickly, but everybody seemed so calm. They seemed to be in control. It was wonderful the way these teenagers handled the situation.”
“We’re glad that the girl is fine and thrilled that the lifeguards responded so professionally and quickly,” said Ken Disselkoen, Waynewood Recreation Association board member. “All the guards did what they were supposed to do. NVPools has a very aggressive in-service program and it has really paid off.”
Even former lifeguard Brenda Holian, who was relaxing at the pool, jumped in to assist.
“Everybody did what they were supposed to do and that’s why we were so successful,” Smith said.