MILTON — As Sara Dewyre and Kayli Johnson jumped into the Milton Community Pool’s deep end, they remained focused on two “victims” directly ahead of them, who appeared to be struggling to stay above water.
Dewyre and Johnson both swam to the two “victims,” quickly grabbed onto them and guided them to the edge of the pool.
Like Dewyre and Johnson, the “victims” were fellow junior lifeguards Bradley Newcomer and Skyler Dauberman. The four were demonstrating just some of the rescue skills they have learned since recently signing up for the pool’s Junior Lifeguard program.
“I’ve been around the water a lot,” said Dauberman, 14. “It’s good to know what to do if anything happens (in the water).”
While he was excited to enroll in the program, Dauberman said his excitement for being a junior lifeguard has grown since taking to the water several weeks ago.
Chase Bobb, the Milton Community Pool’s assistant manager, is the head instructor for the junior program.
“This is something I wanted to do for about two years now,” Bobb said. “I got the basic idea from the American Red Cross, which did something similar to this in the very past.”
Through the program, Bobb said 13 and 14 year olds take classes and learn rescue skills similar to those which are taught in a lifeguarding course.
Bobb noted an individual must be at least 15 years old to become a certified lifeguard.
Through the junior program, participants are meeting two days per week throughout the summer.
For two hours in the morning, participants receive classroom instruction. That is followed by two hours of learning hands-on skills, such as how to rescue someone from the water.
The participants must also log 15 hours throughout the summer shadowing lifeguards at the Milton Community Pool.
Bobb noted that the teens taking the program are not employees of the pool. As a result, they have a protocol they must follow if they notice someone in trouble in the water while shadowing.
“The first thing they must do is alert one of the lifeguards,” Bobb said. “Preferably, they are not to be the first ones there (to save someone)... They cannot actively make a save.”
However, the junior lifeguards are well trained and ready to save someone if the circumstances warrant.
“I already gave them the basic skills, if they need to save someone, they can,” Bobb said.
Through the program, he said participants will be certified in first aid, CPR and use of an AED through pool Manager Veronica Irvine, who is certified to offer the training.
Bobb noted the junior’s certification will not be a professional one as individuals must be at least 15 to receive professional CPR, AED and first aid training.
He said the Junior Lifeguard program is preparing the teenagers well for when they turn 15.
“When they are old enough to take the (lifeguarding) courses, they know what to do and they can do it well,” Bobb said.
While he is planning on taking a lifeguarding course next year, Dauberman said the Junior Lifeguard program is giving him other skills which he can carry into the future.
“I’m learning to talk to people... so they can be safer around water,” he said.
A limited number of slots remain open for participants in the Milton Community Pool’s Junior Lifeguard program. For information on signing up for the program, call the pool at 570-742-3298.
Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.