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Emergency drill at pool goes well

July 13, 2011

Shown in top photo, "victim" Zachary Lovett is assisted out of the ambulance by St. Marys Area Ambulance Service personnel Mark Schaut, left, and Larry Shipe, right, following a mock emergency drill at the St. Marys Community Pool. The drill was completed to help lifeguards better understand procedures to be followed in the event a pool guest requires medical attention. Photo by Victoria Stanish.

The annual mock emergency drill at the St. Marys Community Pool that took place Wednesday afternoon went well, according to pool manager Gregory L. Snelick.
Each year, Snelick and members of the St. Marys Area Ambulance Service coordinate a mock 911 call and drill to better prepare pool lifeguards in the execution of emergency procedures.
Snelick said pools and surrounding areas can be dangerous in any location, even under close supervision, and it only takes a second for someone to be in trouble.
"The purpose of the drill is to look for areas that need to be improved," Snelick said.
In order to replicate an emergency situation as closely as possible, pool staff are not told the drill is fake-- as far as they are concerned, someone needs help and they need to take action.
"The kids did not realize it was a drill," Snelick said. "All they know is that someone is in trouble."
It may seem easy to spot someone having difficulty, he said, but with an average of 200 or more visitors each day, the training such as the lifeguards receive in these mock situations is very important in ensuring the safety of pool guests. Lifeguards are trained to scan their surroundings and look for specific issues, such as someone having breathing difficulties or experiencing problems staying afloat, and assess and react to the situation appropriately. They follow specific procedures put in place to handle medical or other emergencies competently and quickly.
"What we're trying to do is practice our skills during a time when there are people in the pool," Snelick said.
Zachary Lovett volunteered to be the "victim" for the drill, simulating an injury after he went off the high dive. According to Snelick, Matt Hoffman was the main rescuer and was assisted by Josh Gebauer, Seth Dippold, Michael Stebich, Marina Weis and John Mosebarger. Snelick said conducting the mock drill during a high-census time, around 3:15 p.m. on a hot Wednesday afternoon, really tested lifeguards' skills and their response time in determining a problem; assessing the patient, removing him from the pool and securing him safely; contacting emergency personnel; and clearing the water of other pool guests in an orderly fashion.

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