Mock rescue helps pool staff remain prepared for an emergency

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Thursday, the injury was simulated, but the lifeguards at the George C. Brown Community Pool treated it as if it was real.

For the first time in about three years, staff at the pool staged a mock rescue in order to maintain the skills for when a real emergency occurs.

And with weather that has been seen this week, multiple swimmers at the pool make it all the more important to be prepared.

During the mock rescue, pool co-manager Adrienne Goss posed as a swimmer who dived into the middle-depth of the pool and suffered a neck injury.

To the rescue, complete with head and leg restraints and a backboard, were lifeguards Sarajane Depp-Hutchinson, Nickita Martz, Miranda Schultz and Alicia Switlick.

Jeff Overly, who also co-manages the pool, said all 12 lifeguards at the Brown pool must be certified in CPR and basic first aid. The lifeguards earned their certifications at pools at Punxsutawney Area Middle School and in DuBois and Brookville.

Some certification can be acquired over six weeks or in consecutive days, depending on the location and the preference, Overly said.

Even when the warm weather can be draining on lifeguards sitting in the chairs, they must be alert at all times, he said.

“It can be boring in those chairs, but safety is the No. 1 thing down here,” said Overly, who has worked at the pool for nine years, this being his first as a manager.

Lifeguards rotate chairs every 15 minutes to alleviate boredom or fatigue.

Some of the lifeguards also work at the PAMS pool in the off-season.
Two EMTs from Jefferson County EMS were also on hand Thursday to observe the mock rescue.

While the mock rescue was a serious activity Thursday, fun is also the name of the game at the Brown pool this summer.

This year, the staff will introduce several theme days, such as Christmas in July, Hawaiian Day, free days and even picnic days and movie nights, provided it can find a projector.

The pool is open from noon to 6 p.m. every day except Thursday, when it is open from noon to 8 p.m.