Saturday, June 01, 2013

Lifeguards and Personal Responsibility

I think the idea of lifeguards and other trained public safety professionals is great. However, something happened today at the neighborhood pool that got me thinking. I was talking with a friend at the local pool while we were watching our kids.  The older kids were on swim team and the younger kids were playing on the steps in the shallow area.

Our local pool usually has 2 lifeguards sitting high on lifeguard stands overlooking the deep water.  Just recently the pool added a 3rd lifeguard sitting at the pool edge near the steps where the littlest non-swimmers wade. This is a great idea because, it has been my experience with my own kids that its these non-swimmers that get into the most trouble the quickest.

Anyways, we are talking at the poolside  and my friend is watching his kid like a hawk.  The 3rd lifeguard is at poolside as well. So, as it happened, the littlest kid who was playing on the steps, stepped off the step and got into water over his head. So my friend and I spot the top of his son's head just under the water, arms moving but not strong enough to get his head above the water again. 

So, in a flash, my friend jumps up, is over in the water lifting his son out onto the poolside.  The kid, just out of the water, coughs a few times then vomits and then is fine and spends the rest of the time sitting on my friends lap in a towel with no apparent permanent effects from the incident.

After the incident, I'm having flashbacks to all the close calls with my children around water. I've had my non-swimming kids fall into deep water on a dock, or jump into the pool without their arm floaties not remembering that they had just taken them off to eat a snack. And, I've been the one to snap into action and respond; snatching my kids out of the water or getting their head above water before they inhale any of it. I was also glad my talking with my friend didn't distract him from noticing the exact moment when his son was in trouble.

What is amazing here is, in addition to the fact that any kids survive childhood is that through that whole incident with my friend's kid's head going under the water, the flailing, the rescue, the cough, cough, vomit on the concrete; none of the lifeguards noticed that anything had happened.  Even the lifeguard sitting next to the shallows. Didn't even notice after the fact.

What's my point here? My point is that having lifeguards is great, but their presence doesn't mean parents and everyone at the pool doesn't have the responsibility to be watching.  In the event of an incident, its nice to have some trained professionals and water-saving equipment available. But in this instance and many others with my own kids, had I not been watching and been the one to rescue my own kid, the lifeguard would only have helped in retrieving their lifeless corpse from the bottom of the pool.

The reason I brought this up was notto discuss  water safety, the merits of arm floaties, or the continued need for parental supervision. There is a principle here that applies to other aspects of our life.   With all this attention on gun rights in America, and security in the workplace, and knowing life-saving skills, etc.

It is nice to have trained County Sheriff's deputies, Emergency Medical Services, and workplace security.  But I will tell you that when there is a safety or health incident, if a person has to wait for the trained help to arrive, it's too late. When there is a cardiac arrest and a person's heart stops.  If that person doesn't receive bystander chest compressions in the 15 minutes its going take for EMS to arrive, its too late. They are going to be brain dead.

And again, when it comes to the 4th Amendment right in the US to bare arms.  If there were to be a security threat, if victims were forced to wait for public safety to arrive, it's too late.  Safety and security  is our common shared responsibility.  We all have to be watching out for each other.  We all have to be trained in basic life saving skills.  It's okay to have trained safety professionals, but its not okay to abandon completely our personal responsibility to a designated few.

This is not just a physical principle but also a spiritual principle. Our spiritual safety and security is also a common shared responsibility and should not only be left to trained professionals like pastors.  

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