The days were golden sun, water, sand ? and a raft. I was one lethal kid, guaranteed to hit hard and hit fast, sending all comers off the raft, flying into the lake. I won most of those King of the Raft games!
I could also straddle an old army flotation device and play endless games of spud (a skill that would serve me in good stead when rescue-tube rescues came into vogue). Most importantly, I remember learning the back-pressure/ arm-lift method of resuscitation.
It was so simple. Put the victim on his stomach. Press down HARD on the rib cage. Then, lift up on the elbows. Just keep going ?out goes the bad air, in comes the good air.? Anyone could do it. We learned it in Scouts, at the Y, at camp and in school. We even learned the alternate chest-pressure/arm-lift method for victims lying on their backs.
This was it, the sole method of rescue we had for someone who was not breathing. If his heart had stopped, we would never know. Pulse check wasn?t a part of this protocol. Next came mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Wow, that was something to talk about putting my mouth on a stranger?s mouth.
The ?70s brought CPR training. First, we had to learn to spell cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Then, we had to learn to count. Not just 1, 2, 3, 4, but 1 ?and? 2 ?and? ? Was it 5 compressions and 1 breath or 15 and 2? Numbers started to make us crazy. Adult 1:5, child 1:4, infant 1:3, one-person CPR, two-person CPR, cycles, pulse rates and checks. Rescue training now included math and memorization.
The ?80s were great! With mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, we knew we could save lives. We hardly thought about disease. But this euphoria did not last long.
The ?90s and HIV/AIDS brought us more details than we ever wanted to know about hepatitis and a host of other diseases. Saving someone else?s life now meant risking our own.
The rest is pretty much known. Medical advances have caused us to revise our basic CPR protocols, but the standard method remains the same. We have added AED and oxygen training. When I was learning back-pressure/arm-lift, if someone had told me one day I would be teaching teenagers how to administer electronic shocks to the human heart, I would have thought this is science fiction.
As my particular story shows, the last 45 years have been eventful, to say the least. When today?s lifeguards look back, how will their first training in 2003 compare with lifeguard training in 2048? We?ll all still play King of the Raft, but some kid will always win. What will this youngster?s transition to lifeguarding be like?
I?ll bet King of the Raft will still be a great way to spend the afternoon!