Lifeguards understand how true those words are, and they live with that understanding each and every day as they scout the water, watching and waiting for the problems they are called upon to resolve — in an instant.
In July, lifeguards at the city’s Royal Lane Park pool came face to face with that realization when a youngster nearly drown.
But thanks to alert and quick-thinking lifeguards at the pool, who put their training into action in what has been turned a by-the-book save, a young boy was pulled from the water, revived and virtually unscathed in what could have been a harrowing and tragic incident.
We cannot thank, nor applaud, Bill Jones, Casey Young and Vernon Williford enough for their heroic efforts that day, nor can we say enough about the quick actions they took, actions, which are certainly part of their job, but which still deserve lauding because of the way in which they carried them out.
Too often, we think of lifeguards as the men and women who try to stop our fun at local pools, beaches and lakes. They are, by virtue of the jobs they’re responsible for conducting, the ones who force us out of the water, to take rest breaks, to stop cutting up when cutting up is so much fun and a plethora of other things we believe hamper our good time when, actually, they are meant to keep us safe.
Last month’s near tragedy drives home the point that lifeguards are there to protect us, to be aware of what’s going on and to stop problems before they escalate into dangerous situations.
What they aren’t there for is to baby-sit children.
Too often parents and guardians see the lifeguards as day care providers, individuals who can keep an eye on everything their children are doing, both in and out of the water.
While, without question, the lifeguards can and should keep order around the water, it is a parent’s responsibility to help oversee their children, helping to ensure that they are following the rules meant to keep them out of harm’s way.
Accidents do happen, though, and drowning is always a real possibility. That’s why lifeguards are meant to keep a watch on what’s going on around them, paying attention to each child and what that child is doing in the water.
They can’t do that if attention is diverted to problems unrelated to water rescue, as it sometimes is, both in local pools and around the state, where lifeguards are on duty and needed.
In our own incident, the lifeguards were doing what they should have been doing — minding the safety of the children. In doing so, they were able to save a life.