Lifeguards enjoy their summer work
WATKINS GLEN, PENN YAN (7/13/16)--When the summer heat gets too much to bear, many residents will often flock to the nearest body of water to cool down. Whether it is at a pool or the lakefront, there are often lifeguards on duty to respond in case of an emergency.
Two such lifeguards are Maddy Ross and Katherine Meehan, who are part of the lifeguarding team at the state park pool. Meehan has been a lifeguard for three summers, adding she enjoys the work since she is a swimmer and likes to be outdoors. She noted she had to take a lifeguarding class, a CPR test and then take a state test to certify her to work in the state park. She said if you take the lifeguarding class in school, it can range from either a full to a half year, with the state test taking about four additional hours.
Meehan works full-time at the pool, noting one of her favorite parts is helping people.
"I had my first rescue this year," Meehan said. "It was my first water one. This kid didn't think it was that far of a distance from the diving board and I had to go save him."
Both Meehan and Ross were also part of a rescue at the Mohawk bathroom last year for a call for a seizure. They said they had to give the person sugar water, and added the person also fell and hit their head. They put the person on a back board and got him medical attention.
Meehan said the harder parts are dealing with the large crowds on hot days, adding sometimes the visitors can be rude or mean. She noted when there is an issue with little kids, sometimes the parents will get upset when they tell them about their kids. Meehan said there are also some problems getting certain people to wear lifejackets.
Ross said she has also been a lifeguard for three years, while working part-time at the pool.
"I really like the action in it," Ross said. "There is not always action, but when there is, it's really fun."
Ross added she also enjoys the people she works with and being outside all day, saying there are five to seven lifeguards on duty each day. One of the more difficult parts of her job is getting people to follow all of the pool rules, especially those who are more difficult to deal with. Ross added in addition to a rescue in the campground, she was also involved in a pool rescue during her time as a lifeguard.
Derek Sisson and Clay Kinyoun are part of the Penn Yan lifeguard crew who monitor the swimmers at Red Jacket and Indian Pines Parks. Sisson is a five-year veteran of the lifeguard crew, while Kinyoun is in his first year. Sisson said he wanted to be a lifeguard because he likes the water, adding "It is a nice summer gig to have, especially going into college."
"I have just always liked the water and I wanted to stay around it and not have to go into town and do another job," Kinyoun added. "I wanted to be able to stay on the water and have fun."
Sisson said in addition to strong swimming skills, lifeguards have to be socially oriented and know how to communicate with people properly. On the safety side of things, he added they are required to take two weeks worth of training in swimming and first aid. Sisson said his favorite part of the job is watching people swim around and enjoy themselves, saying they will get between 150 to 200 people a day between the two parks. Kinyoun added he enjoys being able to watch people have fun and make sure they stay safe.
"[The hardest part] is dealing with people who don't want to listen to the lifeguards," Sisson said. "It is one of the hardest things. We try to keep the rules as strict as they can be, but you have to lay down the law and tell them what the rules are at the parks. Safety is our No. 1 priority. Whatever we can do to keep them safe while they are having fun at the same time, that is what we have to do."
Kinyoun agreed, added it can be difficult having to tell little kids to stop throwing rocks. While Kinyoun has yet to see a rescue situation, Sisson said he had one incident a couple years ago where an older lady fell and broke her foot. He said he helped get her out of the water and gave her proper care until emergency services came.