Lifeguard classes provide meaningful summer jobs

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | 3:46 p.m. CDT; updated 11:45 a.m. CDT, Thursday, June 16, 2011
Clay Scruggs, 15, practices rescuing Katie Coughenour, 22, in the Hickman High School pool on Tuesday. The two are in training to be lifeguards this summer at Columbia's city pools.

COLUMBIA — Tyler Walton, 22, was lifeguarding when he saved a woman from drowning when she had a seizure while swimming.

Walton has been involved with lifeguarding for more than five years. His love of water and helping people motivated him to begin instructing lifeguard certification classes for the city of Columbia.


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The last round of lifeguard certification classes began Tuesday at Hickman Pool and will run through Thursday. The minimum age requirement for becoming a lifeguard is 15. Twenty-seven hours of training are required. The certification sessions started in February.

Participants are trained for skills such as water rescue, CPR, automatic external defibrillator training, rescue breathing, first aid and how to respond in emergencies and high-stress situations, Walton said.

"What I learned and what I am teaching these students now does save lives," Walton said. "It's pretty cool."

Doug Haden, 23, was a certified lifeguard from 2005 to 2006. Haden, who knows Walton from school, decided to recertify for this summer.

"It's been nice to get back in the pool," Haden said. "It's been a while, but it's all coming back to me now."

Despite Haden's previous lifeguarding experience, he said he's a little rusty in some exercises, such as the deep sea rescue. In that exercise, students lift a person from the bottom of the 10-foot pool onto a raft.

"We usually do things on the surface of the water, so the deep-water rescues can be difficult," Haden said. "I'm a pretty strong swimmer, so it helps."

Naomi Tucker, 15, saidthough it was a good learning experience, the deep sea rescue was also the most difficult part for her.

"(Lifeguard training) is really fun and the people are really nice," Tucker said. "It's definitely a lot harder than I thought it would be."

Despite its difficulties, Tucker said she thinks lifeguarding is the best option for a summer job in Columbia.

"If you really want to get a summer job and do something rewarding, rather than work at a convenience store or something, it's the best thing to do," Tucker said. "I'm really just looking forward to helping people."

Hours for local aquatic facilities are offered on the Columbia Parks and Recreation website

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