In view of the recent drowning incidents in swimming pools in the Tricity, including the one at National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali, Vikas Panchar, a lifeguard at Gymkhana Club Swimming Pool at Mansa Devi Complex, tells Swati Mahajan how to avert such accidents.
Have you done any lifeguard course?
I have done a course to become a lifeguard from Young Men Christian Association YMCA). I had completed the course four years ago.
What all were you taught during the course?
We were taught about various techniques that can be used in saving a drowning person. Also, if the water goes inside the mouth of a person, we have to use the mouth-breathing technique. In this technique, a drowning person is held with his mouth upwards and back on the lower side.
Since how long have you been swimming?
I have been swimming since I was eight-years-old.
My father taught me how to swim. I learnt to swim in a small pond of a Haryana village, where the buffaloes used to take bath.
Have you ever saved a drowning person during your experience as a lifeguard?
Two years ago, I saved a child while working in Greater Noida at a school as a coach and lifeguard. I was teaching him swimming and he was still at a learning stage. I had warned him to avoid going to the deeper side. Though he knew how to swim, he was yet to administer the technique of breathing and could not swim for long. The pool was six-feet deep. He didn’t realise when he swam towards the deep end. When I saw him moving towards the deep end, I immediately jumped into the pool and saved him. There is a technique called cycling, in which we keep cycling and are able to stand in the pool with moving our legs. While saving a life, we keep cycling and hold the drowning person and bring him towards the corner.
There have been a number of drowning incidents in swimming pools across the city this year. How can such accidents be prevented?
Sometimes, a persons suffers a heart-attack while swimming, leading to death. A person has to be very careful and not exert himself. This is applicable for both exercising and swimming. Also, the lifeguards on duty should be vigilant and keep an eye on each and every person present in the pool, irrespective of the fact whether the person knows swimming or not. The lifeguards should ensure the safety of each and every person present in the pool. A security guard should be present all the time in the pool. The pools should be manned 24-hours by a security guard, as it is the responsibility of the resort owners to ensure safety. In the Gymkhana Club pool, there is a security guard at the gate and the pool is indoor. Once the timings are over, the pool is locked. If it is an open pool, it is the responsibility of the owners to ensure safety of people and they should have a security guard to ensure no one enters the pool.
According to you, the pools should be always guarded?
Certain incidents, where we heard that people came and jumped in the pool just for fun, could have been averted if there was a security guard on duty at such places.
People are usually scared of sending their children to the pool. What would you like to suggest them?
Swimming is a good exercise. If a person starts learning swimming at a young age, he picks up well and once he grows up, he is not scared of water.
Are there any life saving equipment?
When we start a pool, we keep various life saving equipment like oxygen cylinders, life jackets, stretchers, first-aid kits in case of emergency.
What do you have to say about swimmers drowning in rivers?
It is easier to swim in sea, as the waves come and go. However, it is tough to swim in stagnant water, like a swimming pool. But when we talk of river, the river current pulls a person along and he is likely to drown.
Is there any rule regarding the number of lifeguards to be present at the swimming pools?
As per the rule book, it is according to the length of the swimming pool. If a pool is 25m long, it should have three lifeguards and one lady guard, while in a 50m long pool, the number of lifeguards increases.