They're not yet old enough to drive, but the participants in the Junior Lifeguard program at Antioch's Contra Loma Regional Park are more than qualified to save lives.
Run by the East Bay Regional Park District, the Junior Lifeguard program teaches kids 9 through 14 years of age important life-saving skills, first-aid treatments and other water safety tips using fun games and activities.
They learn a lot in this program. The parents are pretty impressed with the skills their kids come home with, said Katy Leidenthal, a head lifeguard filling in for Program Coordinator Emily Plurkowski this week. Since most of these kids intend to become certified lifeguards at age 16, this really prepares them for that.
Junior Lifeguard students learn basic skills, such as how to identify a drowning victim, proper rescue techniques, when and how to administer CPR and how to operate an Automatic External Defibulator (AED).
In addition to learning how to stabilize someone who has sustained a spinal chord injury or head trauma, the students also learn how to treat wounds, burns, bites or stings. In the upcoming Master Disaster session, participants will learn to handle multiple emergencies at once.
We basically teach the kids how to protect themselves and others in a wide range of emergency situations, Leidenthal said. It's a really great program.
While the scenarios can be traumatic and disturbing in real life, instructors like Regan FitzPatrick make the learning experience informative and fun through games, contests and group activities.
My favorite part is that we learn different skills but we do it in games, said student Anne Partran, 10. We learned how to deploy our rescue tubes but we had to do it blindfolded in competition.
Antioch's Justin Downie, 13, has attended three sessions of the summer-long program and said he intends to become a certified lifeguard in three years when he's eligible.
I feel like I could do CPR now if I had to, Downie said. (The class is) really fun. I liked the games like Capture the Flag and Sharks and Minnows best.
The program consists of 10 one-week sessions, each of which has a different theme. Three sessions are still open for registration. A full day of class runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and costs $160, while a half day, either in the morning or afternoon, costs $125. Classes are held in the swimming pool area of Contra Loma Regional Park.
Session 8, If it breaks, splint it, runs from Aug. 4 to 8. Session 9, Master Disaster, runs from Aug. 11 to 15. And Session 10, Burns, poisons, bites and stings, runs from Aug. 18 to 22.
For more information or to register for the Junior Lifeguard program, call 888-327-2757 or visit www.ebparks.org/webreg.