A few people looking to cool off this past Saturday stopped by the Riverbank Community Pool located on the corner of Seventh and Stanislaus streets in hopes of taking a dip into the refreshing water. However, the pool was closed due to a final day of training for the lifeguards that will be keeping swimmers safe in Riverbank. (See photo, additional story in Sports, Page A9.)
Sue Fitzpatrick, Director of Parks and Recreation, expressed that the lifeguards go through a lot of training prior to employment with the department.
“They have approximately 3 weeks of a lifeguard course that teaches lifeguarding, CPR for the professional rescuer, blood borne pathogens training and AED training,” said Fitzpatrick. “They must pass a test to take the class and pass a test to be certified. Then they have to take an eight-hour Title 22 course that is an advanced first aid class. All certifications need to be updated every two years.”
Throughout the summer the aquatics staff trains every Friday to perfect their lifesaving skills. This Friday, June 10 the Riverbank lifeguards will be attending training at Johansen High School along with lifeguards from other communities.
“When lifeguards are hired with us they must be fully certified,” added Fitzpatrick. “They then train with us for two days and learn to work with one another in a variety of situations.
“They also learn to teach swimming and water safety.”
Samantha Houston has been a lifeguard in Riverbank for the past five years and is currently attending college. She is the Head Lifeguard in the pool.
“I love this job and I love the staff,” said Houston.
Lifeguard Instructor Zachary Shelton returned for his third summer this year along with several other guards that have returned for the season.
“I love this city,” said Shelton. “Sue makes it a great place to work and she hires great people.”
There are five new guards on hand this summer and Sydney Howard is one of them; a Riverbank resident that has grown up swimming in the Community Pool.
“I feel we have great staff this summer,” stated Fitzpatrick. “We have a large number of new guards that I can see staying with us and becoming the managers of the future. They are very eager to work and offer their best service to the city and community. Many of our new guards came up through our learn-to-swim program, joined our swim team and now are our employees.”
Last week the lifeguards had a real situation occur when a 15-year-old dove into the deep end and started sinking to the bottom of the pool. Houston, along with the assistance of two-year veteran Elliot Hutchins, were alert and jumped right in and pulled the flailing swimmer up to the surface. The person was rescued by the lifeguards that were diligent in watching the swimmers and reacted quickly.
“The person was fine and the parents asked about swim lessons, which we will gladly provide,” expressed Fitzpatrick. “The staff did a great job.”
Responding to water emergencies, keeping a watchful eye on swimmers and – if and when the need arises, saving lives – are what the lifeguards are trained for and this aquatic team is ready for the summer.
Five two-week sessions of swim lessons are being offered at the pool throughout the summer; contact the Parks and Recreation Department for more information, 863-7140.