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Two Great Ways to Save Lives

Published 04.12.18

Whether on dry land or in the water, saving lives isn’t just something you should leave to chance; with the help of the YMCA, you too can have the skills to be a life-saver.

You never know when you will be in a situation where someone’s life is at risk and you are the only person on the scene. The person at risk may be someone you know: a friend, colleague, or family member. Even though most people carry cell phones and can dial 911, taking action in those early minutes may mean the difference between life and death. Can you imagine how heartbreaking it would be to lose a loved one because you didn’t make the effort to learn some emergency skills?

I’m fortunate that my first career was in a medical field so I have a basic understanding of the workings of the human body, but that doesn’t qualify me for complacency. If you don’t practice something on a daily basis, your memory of that skill can easily fade. It’s 15 years since I gave up my Podiatry license to come to the USA and since then, I only renewed my emergency first aid skills once. When I became more focused on my writing, I let my first aid certificate lapse…until recently.

My youngest children are in scouts and have both developed a love of camping. This requires a commitment from parents of both time and skills. I soon found I had to be outdoor camp certified in order for my daughter to attend most of the Girl Scout camps. This also included first aid certification. So, in February, I became a certified, Red Cross first aider and was amazed by how much things have changed in just a few years. The class was intense and very hands-on which helped with confidence. The CPR practice dummies are very lifelike and we were trained in AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) use which is useful because defibrillators are much more readily available nowadays.

Many of the skills taught may seem like common sense, but in an emergency situation, the rush of adrenaline can cause your common sense to quickly evaporate. This is where practicing different emergency situations provides you with a good visual example—an easier way to remember a procedure than learning from a textbook. If you have physically practiced something, you are more likely to be able to handle a real situation.

But what if that situation is by the pool or at the beach this summer? Beaches and pools get crowded and lifeguards are not always close by. If you are a confident swimmer, you may be able to help someone in distress in the water; without training, you may think twice about doing anything. Once again, taking action in those early minutes may mean the difference between life and death. Living on the North Carolina coast, we are all familiar with the peril of rip currents. Children and less-confident swimmers can easily find themselves being pulled away from the shore by a strong current and panic may take over. How helpless would you feel if you didn’t know what to do?

Whether your intention is to feel confident enough to help a struggling swimmer or to take lifesaving one step further and become a lifeguard, the training you need is available through the YMCA several times a year with dates for upcoming sessions as follows:

Lifeguard Training course - April 17– May 17, Tuesday/ Thursdays 6:00-8:45pm
Lifeguard Training course recertification - May 12 & 19 10:00am–4:00pm (MUST ATTEND BOTH DAYS)
Sign up with the YMCA now so you too can save a life.

Adult/Child/Infant CPR plus AED class – dates TBD

Carole Wirszyla, Freelance Writer