Lifeguards and paramedics work together for spinal demonstration

Jodi Schellenberg
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Published on July 22, 2014

One of the male lifeguards holds the pretend victim of a spinal injury in a vice grip hold while carrying her to the spine board during a demonstration at the Kinsmen Water Park on Tuesday.

Published on July 22, 2014

Two lifeguards put the spine board into position and hold it in place, waiting for the victim to be put into it during a mock rescue.

Published on July 22, 2014

While the first lifeguard on scene holds the pretend victim on the board, a second lifeguard gets ready to take over keeping her still.

Published on July 22, 2014

While one lifeguard holds the pretend victim still at the head of the spine board, three other lifeguards strap her to the board.

Published on July 22, 2014

The lifeguards lift the spine board out of the pool and onto the deck during the mock rescue.

Published on July 22, 2014

Lifeguards and paramedics work together to put the pretend victim on the Parkland Ambulance stretcher at the side of the pool.

Published on July 22, 2014

Parkland Ambulance paramedics get ready to remove the stretcher from the pool area during a demonstration.

Through demonstrations and announcements, the lifeguards at the Kinsmen Water Park in Prince Albert continued with water safety activities.

Swimmers at the park on Tuesday witnessed a mock spinal injury and rescue performed by the lifeguards and Parkland Ambulance.

Initially, a lifeguard pretending to be a public swimming patron pretended to dive into the swimming pool, which is too shallow for diving.

It quickly prompted the lifeguards involved in the mock rescue to scurry into action. One lifeguard blew a major, which is one long whistle blast, notifying the others on duty about the emergency. He then slipped into the water, being careful to make as little waves as possible.

Lauren Haubrich, an aquatic manager for the city, explained they want to keep the spine as still as possible to prevent any further injury.

Once the lifeguard reached the victim, he put her in a vice grip immobilization and did a spinal rollover so her face was out of the water.

During this time, if it had been a real emergency, the other lifeguards would have cleared the pool and radioed the office to call 911, Haubrich said. Since it was only a demonstration, the paramedics were already on scene.

While the lifeguard in the water with the victim is slowly bringing them to the shallow end of the pool, another lifeguard is getting the spine board and helping to set it up with help from other guards.

“The person at the head is going to do a breathing check to see if they are breathing,” Haubrich said. “If they are not breathing, we take them out right away before fully securing them to the spine board. If they are breathing, we fully put them on the spine board, put it nice and tight and pull them out with everyone working together.”

Once on deck, the lifeguards will start treating the victim for shock by covering them with a blanket, checking their vital signs and gathering as much information as possible for the ambulance.

“We clear everyone out of the pool because it is a major situation -- all of the pools are evacuated because all of the lifeguards are needed to help and there is no one left to lifeguard the pools,” Haubrich said.

When the paramedics arrive on scene, the lifeguards help lift the victim onto the stretcher for the paramedics to transport them to the hospital.

Haubrich said she was pleased with how the demonstration went on Tuesday.

“It was exactly as it would have been in real life except the paramedics were here a little bit faster because they knew about it,” she said. “I was really (happy) with all the lifeguards. We had really good communication between everyone and our spine board was perfect.”

During the week, they are doing many lifeguard rescue demonstrations but wanted to have the paramedics involved for one day to help teach the public the importance of water safety.

“We wanted to add a little bit of reality to it instead of just the lifeguards doing the spinal and taking the victim out of the water,” Haubrich said. “We thought if we added Parkland Ambulance it would help us as lifeguards, knowing how it is going to transition.

“For the public, it really gives a visual effect of not only does this person have to go on a spine board if they dive in and hit their head on the bottom, but they are going to go to the hospital afterwards.”

Parkland Ambulance was glad to help out the staff of the water park teach the patrons what happens in an emergency.

“It is Drowning Prevention Week and so part of the role of the lifeguards at the pool wanted to portray and promote some of the safety aspects that they can do, so what they can do and how they can help the patrons here, at any pool across Canada and Saskatchewan,” said Lyle Karasiuk, director of public relations for Parkland Ambulance.

It helped the lifeguards and paramedics teach the patrons the importance of water safety.

“It was an opportunity for us as paramedics to become involved in that because ultimately once a rescue takes place in the pool then the injured person has to somehow get to the hospital and depending on the severity of their injuries and depending on what is needed, paramedics will then continue that care,” Karasiuk said.

“In the demonstration that they did here today, we are dealing with just a simple little spinal injury -- granted, simple and little do not equate together when talking about a spinal injury,” he added. “In terms of the demonstration it rapidly went very quickly so for the public watching it, it just happened and was over.”

Lifeguards and paramedics have different skill sets, Karasiuk explained.

“The lifeguards are the experts when it comes to the pool and our paramedics are the experts when it comes to continuum of care, so depending on what is needed and how that need is portrayed, our paramedics continue that care on,” he said. “It is important that we all work together as health care providers and rescuers, each of us having our distinct roles to do.”

Geographic location: Canada, Saskatchewan

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