On the Job: Making a splash

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Many of you may have been out hitting the pool for this 4th of July, but we wanted to give some special recognition for those who keep you and your family safe on the water!

I always thought lifeguarding seemed like a glamorous job, but I found out this week there's a lot more to it. So I set out for NAS-Meridian to discover what it takes to train to become a guard.

"Powerpoint, presentations and videos and things like that, but we also come out here to the pool and do the hands-on things," Alex Leming explained.

Leming has been the aquatics specialist at NAS for the past two years. She makes sure all the lifeguards, including me, are ready for the job.

"We get in the pool, we learn how to rescue people, we learn CPR, first aid, AED, what to do when you're on the stand, how to sit on the stand," she said.

We started with the basics: getting my equipment ready and mastering the sit/stand/stroll. Leming says sitting, standing and strolling by the pool is the best way to keep an eye on the swimmers.

Then, I learned the proper way into the pool. Finally, I was ready to save someone.

"Extend your arms, push tube out in front, keep swimming!"

Leming shouted directions to keep me on course while I made my rescue.

"I think the most challenging part of being a lifeguard is making sure you are focused at all times," she told me. "So you have to actively search in the water. It's almost like you've lost your phone, and you're frantically searching around your house for it. You are actively searching, and so that is what you have to do when you are watching people in the pool."

Even when the lifeguards are sitting in their chair, they have to always remain vigilant. Things can go wrong in a matter of seconds, and if disaster strikes, you have to get from this stand to a victim in just 30 seconds.

If you have any suggestions for On the Job, email me at candace.barnette@wtok.com.