The Iola-Scandinavia Community Fitness and Aquatic Center (ISCFAC) recently teamed up with the Iola Ambulance Service for a mock drill.
“Mock drills are a very good way of training,” said Ambulance Administrator Carrie Snyder. “It allows the EMTs to simulate a real emergency in a controlled environment.”
Snyder said the drill prepared both the lifeguards and EMTs to work together efficiently when a real emergency occurs.
“It gives the opportunity for the lifeguards and the ambulance crew to be knowledgeable of each other’s role, available resources and level of training while practicing within the facility,” Snyder said.
“It is important to use this type of drill so that our lifeguards can experience working with local EMT’s,” said Tim Welch, Director of the facility. “We learned some great life saving tips from them, regarding questioning of individuals and how important that care is through the whole process.”
According to Welch this exercise involved two separate scenarios.
“First, the lifeguards dealt with a spinal and head injury and had to remove a victim from the shallow end of the pool,” Welch said. “This simulated someone diving into the shallow end, not realizing that they should not dive in at that depth. This victim was bleeding excessively and needed multiple areas of care.”
In the second scenario, the lifeguards responded to a potential heart attack.
Each scenario also included a call to 911.
“The use of the 911 and going through that part of the experience reduces fears and staff anxiety,” said Welch. “As a young person you are never told to call 911 unless it is an emergency. There is a fear of what the other person is going to ask you and if you will make a mistake. Our staff really found that it was great to communicate with emergency dispatch operators and nothing to worry about. They are there to help and get as much information as possible.”
Making sure the staff at ISCFAC is comfortable working with the Ambulance and Emergency services is the key, according to Mallorie Oppor, lifeguard training instructor at the facility.
“I want the Ambulance and Emergency services to be comfortable to work with us as well,” she said. “This was a great opportunity to show everyone involved that we are a team, we need to work together.”
Oppor went on to say that she was very happy with the how the lifeguards handled the situations.
“They had been practicing very hard,” she said. “This was a great learning experience for them. This also gives me a better idea on how to train and prepare our staff for potential emergencies.”
The lifeguards and EMT’s both found the drill to be very educational.
“I was extremely surprised by how every little detail mattered so much,” said Kassie Oliver, lifeguard. “From where you placed your hands to whether the victim even knew their name. I learned that these situations could happen at any moment and by the actions I take could mean life or death.”
“I learned that it’s one thing to just practice life guard skills and saves, but when the EMTs are there with you it feels very real and it’s a whole new experience,” said Brooke Phillips. “It was nice having them next to us to explain details and add helpful tips.”
She noted that there is more to saving a life than “just jumping in the water and grabbing somebody.”
“I liked the mock drill,” said EMT Ted Willems. “It gave us as EMT’s a better understanding of what the lifeguards are trained to do; it builds confidence in the EMT’s because we now know what the lifeguards are capable of. It also gave the lifeguards a better idea of what we as EMT’s do as well.”
Willems pointed out that there is a wait, from the time they call the ambulance until it arrives.
“I think in the future they will be better prepared to handle that time,” he said.
“I was very happy how the lifeguards handled the rescue situations,” said Welch. “The water rescues are worked on regularly and the lifeguards really worked well together.”
Welch noted that there is always room for improvement.
“There are always areas to improve upon and we will continue to train and provide feedback as the lifeguards learn,” said Welch.
“When you look at the job of a lifeguard from afar, it always looks easy,” he said. “It is not easy to be inside a 90 degree pool for hours on end; it is very tiring and lifeguards need breaks to cool down so they can stay focused. The lifeguards are trained and each of them has confidence in their ability and they all should be very proud of that.”
“People using the Fitness and Aquatic Center can be assured that if they need emergency help it is close by and they are trained well,” said Willems.
Welch is planning on other mock drills with different scenarios in the near future.