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
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
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
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
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
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!