Wa­ter safety urged dur­ing train­ing ses­sion

The Barrie Examiner - - NEWS - PA­TRICK BALES

Thurs­day morn­ing was sup­posed to be just an­other reg­u­lar weekly train­ing ses­sion for Oril­lia’s life­guards.

Then Peter Quigley no­ticed some­thing out of the corner of his eye.

“We were set­ting up for our usual sit­u­a­tions and I no­ticed a drown­ing swim­mer who was go­ing un­con­scious, so I jumped in the wa­ter,” Quigley said af­ter the ex­er­cise.

Quigley and his col­leagues sprung into ac­tion. They knew some­thing was com­ing – this spe­cific train­ing ses­sion had been resched­uled due to poor weather in June – but they didn’t know ex­actly what. They were aware the per­son they were sav­ing wasn’t in ac­tual dan­ger, but that didn’t lessen the se­ri­ous­ness of the life­guards while ex­e­cut­ing their du­ties.

“Every­body on our team has gone through so many hours of train­ing in or­der to be here, and every­body here, I’m 100% con­fi­dent to work with,” Quigley said. “With some­thing like this, it’s al­most sec­ond na­ture to a lot of us. Just go in and go through the steps.”

Wil­lum Kelly, water­front di­rec­tor, was proud of the work the life­guards did on the cold, spring-like morn­ing, far from a typ­i­cal July day in Oril­lia.

“It’s hard to sim­u­late it some­times when there’s only two peo­ple swim­ming at the beach, but I think for what they did, they did a re­ally good job,” he said.

Couch­ich­ing Beach can see as many as 150 peo­ple each day, with Moose Beach host­ing up to 300 on week­ends. Hav­ing more peo­ple on the beach makes it more dif­fi­cult for the life­guards to keep their eyes on the wa­ter at all times, en­sur­ing the swim­mers are re­main­ing safe and not in dis­tress.

Stan­dards set by the Life­sav­ing So­ci­ety call for life­guards to be able to scan from one end of the beach to the other in 20-30 sec­onds, en­com­pass­ing all bathers in the wa­ter dur­ing that time frame.

In the past two weeks, two swim­mers in dis­tress have been as­sisted by Oril­lia life­guards. On av­er­age, Kelly said the city has less than 10 sit­u­a­tions that re­quire as­sis­tance from emer­gency per­son­nel.

Those in­ci­dents can hap­pen at any time, Quigley stressed.

“I think it’s like any ma­jor med­i­cal emer­gency,” he said. “(It’s like) a heart at­tack. No thinks they’re ever go­ing to have a heart at­tack... Real­is­ti­cally, it could still hap­pen. It’s the same thing at the beach. Most peo­ple have never ex­pe­ri­enced or seen a real drown­ing be­fore; it doesn’t oc­cur to them that it’s a real pos­si­bil­ity.”

Since the start of July, five peo­ple have drowned in wa­ters in the OPP’s Cen­tral Re­gion, in­clud­ing a in­ci­dent on Green River near Washago dur­ing the Canada Day long week­end. In an­other in­ci­dent, Satur­day along the Lake Huron shore­line in Saugeen First Na­tion, an Oril­lia doc­tor drowned af­ter fall­ing off a paddle board.

The pre­ven­ta­tive mes­sage that may have helped all six of those peo­ple sur­vive con­tin­ues to be ig­nored, said Sgt. Steve Mi­hills, of the OPP’s Snow­mo­bile, All-Ter­rain Ve­hi­cle and Ves­sel En­force­ment Team.

MARK WANZEL/PHOTO

While vis­it­ing the Bar­rie Ca­noe and Kayak Club, two day campers with Em­manuel Bap­tist Church dis­cuss seat­ing ar­range­ments be­fore head­ing out onto Kem­pen­felt Bay on Thurs­day. The group, which con­sisted of more than 30 chil­dren, spent the day learn­ing wa­ter safety and other tech­niques.

PA­TRICK BALES/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

CPR is per­formed on a ‘drown­ing vic­tim’ dur­ing a train­ing ex­er­cise for Oril­lia life­guards and first-re­spon­ders at Couch­ich­ing Beach Park, Thurs­day morn­ing.

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