Chris Haggerty, Sierra Vista, Arizona (CHAGGERTY@ARIZBPA.BITNET)
Sat, 3 Feb 1996 21:39:00 MST
What it all seems to be coming down to is that many think Lifesaving Merit
Badge should be geared toward teaching Emergency rescue, where Red Cross
Lifeguarding is geared toward the professional Life Guard working at a pool.
I will concede that Lifesaving Merit Badge should be geared more toward
teaching Emergency rescue (but not BSA Lifeguard, which is training for a
Life guarding responsibility). That leaves the only difference in concept
being that Red Cross does not teach escapes and contact carries (carries
without equipment of some form), and BSA still does. If BSA sticks, to this,
I hope they start putting more emphasis on substitutes for the "fancy
equipment". Going without some added buoyancy (or equipment) makes the
rescue harder on both the victim and the rescuer and should be avoided.
We have heard a lot of happy ending tales of water rescue using the skills
taught for BSA Lifesaving Merit Badge, but very few about the not so happy
ending stories. It may be because the people who were involved are now dead.
:-( It may also be that survivors hurt too much to talk about it.
There is no doubt in my mind that the skills taught in the Lifesaving Merit
Badge work, when used properly. We have seen lots of examples. Working
along that same reasoning, maybe I should return to using the back pressure-
arm lift method of resuscitation. After all, this is what I was first taught
and it worked too!
I have yet to see an example or situation posted where equipment was not
available and could not have been used, or where equipment SHOULD have been
available for use. (Not to say these situations do not exist, even white
buffalos exist - I think they have/had one at Philmont.)
Some of the arguments I keep hearing.
A Scout is Prepared. Precisely! The rescue tube works based upon a number
of ideas. One of the important ones is buoyancy. It allows the rescuer to
exert most of his effort getting the victim to safety, instead of using a lot
of his energy to support both the victim and himself. A lot of things float.
Many have handles or can easily be attached to a rope (belt). Others can be
pushed to the victim. Very few aquatic areas are void of items that can be
used to give the rescuer and victim more buoyancy. Part of the education
process (being prepared) is making sure equipment is where it should be.
Vacation homes on water, docks, boats, pools, should all have rescue
equipment easily available. When equipment is not available, then you need
to know what you can substitute (be prepared to do this). There is a reason
the Red Cross and others still train people how to handle double drowning.
BSA uses safe swim defense. Ummmm? You lost me on this one. My most recent
BSA Lifeguard Counselor Guide may be dated 1989, but when it talks about the
Safe Swim defense, one of it points is Lifeguards on Duty. Then it talks
about these lifeguards being "equipped". It also talks about Qualified
Supervision. How qualified is the supervision if it does not require the
availability of some form of appropriate rescue equipment? The BSA Safety
Afloat is more explicit. "Appropriate rescue equipment must be available for
immediate use." You are backpacking and all you have is rope. Safety afloat
lists a method of equipping your lifeguards which is much better than no
equipment at all.
Well, I better put an end to all this. Yes I have been playing devils
advocate a bit. It is important that everyone understand that performing a
swimming rescue with equipment, even homemade equipment, is better than
performing a swimming rescue without equipment. While some procedures may be
considered unnecessary with the new skills, that is not to say they will not
work. But do you really want to put yourself in a situation where you have
to make this decision, especially when you can prevent it? Back Pressure-Arm
Lift will resuscitate some people and Cross Chest Carry will save some
drowning victims. YOU AND THE VICTIM HAVE A MUCH BETTER CHANCE OF SUCCESS,
however, if you use the BETTER METHOD of mouth to mouth resuscitation and if
you have equipment to use to help you perform the rescue. Please think about
this when you plan your aquatic activities this year!
As far as possible changes to Lifesaving Merit Badge go, I still see them
coming. (BSA Lifeguarding too!) Jeff Lukens who has better contacts than I
with the aquatic people with BSA says they see no changes. I suspect that
BSA is taking the wait and see approach. There is still a lot of resistance
to these changes even within the Red Cross (Jennifer's post), but there is
ALWAYS resistance to change.
If the escapes and releases do not come back in three to six years, I think
BSA will change. I also hope we see BSA moving, in particular with BSA
Lifeguard, to more emphasis on using equipment, surveillance, and prevention
when Lifeguarding. BSA Lifeguard, is after all, about doing the job of a
lifeguard and these skills and the use of equipment, can only help make you
a better Lifeguard.
Only time will tell if I am right or not, but I sure there will be some
changes, even if BSA keeps the contact carries and blocks/escapes. (That's
always a safe thing to say in an area like this. ;-)
>From that long winded hot air-bag in Sierra Vista,
Chris Haggerty, email@example.com
P.S. I have not, nor will I ever advocate anything but the no more, no less
philosophy for passing merit badges. While I hope I can add to what is
required when the scouts indicate interest, I would never require it. Nor
would I stop teaching a skill required for a merit badge, until changed by
BSA. Nor would I do any different for the Red Cross. Which does get
strange. Last year they updated Lifeguarding, but not WSI. Which means
students in the LIfeguarding class got the benefit of learning the new back
board procedures. When they came into my WSI class, I had to teach them
the old methods (Yes I have been trained in the new, but the old is what
was in the material and that is what you teach.) I did tell them if they
learned the new method in Lifeguarding that they could use that method and
I would recommend it. ;-) This year WSI has been updated, yea!
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City