Sunday, September 05, 2010

Vigilance Awareness Training

I had an interesting two days at work on Friday and Saturday.  Although, more Saturday.  It just all started on Friday afternoon...

While on my rotation at Pop Century, I was doing my two stands at the Hippy Dippy pool.  My manager, Lauren, came up to do their daily "How are you?  Do you need anything" check-in.  Before she left, she announced she would be giving me an IST quiz.  IST stands for in-service training, a two hour training session we have to complete twice a month in order to keep our licenses as guards.  (Yes, we're not certified, we're licensed.  That means I'm only a life guard at Walt Disney World.  If I save someone any where else, I no longer have professional training or legal protection.  Oy.)

"What does FBAO stand for?"
"Foreign Body Airway...Obstruction?"
"Yes.  What does BSI stand for?"
"Body...something Isolation."
"Body Substance Isolation.  What does VAT stand for?"
"Wow.  Um..."
"Vigilance Awareness Training.  What does AED stand for?"
"Automatic External Defibrillator."
"What does AFR stand for?"
"Accidental Fecal Release."
"Very good!  You passed."

It was very stressful.  While she was quizzing me, I was scanning out of Hippy 2 and into Hippy 3.  It's hard to look for VATs, let alone guests in distress, while you're being quizzed on them.

The rest of Friday went completely in the ordinary.  My Chacos continued to destroy my feet--and we were doing so well together!  No one drowned and nothing extreme happened.

After getting a mediocre night's sleep, I had to get up at 6:00 for in-service training at Caribbean Beach.  There was just a small group of us, compared to my first in-service which was nearly our entire life guard staff.  We worked with Lauren and one of our coordinators, Jen.  It was a good two hours.  A lot of us seemed to have a lot of questions.  (It worked out that we had all started anywhere from two months ago to two days ago.)  But we also had a lot of stuff to go over.  We did scenarios where we broke into groups of three and scanned into the three sections of the pool at Old Port Royale.  I was on Pool 2, by the big slide.  The rest of the group was in the water ready to act out the simulated emergency.

One of the girls placed a VAT in Pool 1.  A VAT is a silhouette of a person lying down.  They come in infant, child, and adult sizes.  We get "vatted" periodically during our regular shifts, and they also use them for in-service.  The idea is to lay it at the bottom of the pool and you have 30 seconds to see it and blow your whistle.  Then you jump in and get it.  Well, Pippa was at Pool 3 and happened to see it before Alix, so she jumped in to get it.  I hopped up on top of my stand, standard procedure, and began scanning my water and Pippa's.  When Pippa came out, we all got back to our regular zones.  That's when a guest walked up to the side of the pool, right by my stand, with a drink.  I thought she was just dipping her foot in the water to check the temperature, so I wasn't going to say anything about the drink.  But she stayed a little too long for my liking and I kindly asked her to move the drink six feet from the pool, a Florida law.  Meanwhile, Jen was placing a doll in the corner of my zone.  I don't want to make any excuses, I should have seen it, but I didn't have my visor or sunglasses and there was a terrible glare from the sun rising, something we never encounter.  Pippa happened to see the baby and jumped in again.

Because we're a team, it didn't matter.  But I still felt bad because there was a baby at the bottom of my pool and I didn't see it!  Regardless, the day went on and after in-service, I had to head over to Pop for work.  The day was going, once again, very well.  (A good day for a life guard is a day in which nothing happens.)  I had Bowling 2, Hippy 1, break.  Computer, Hippy 2, Hippy 3, break.  Repeat.  Not a bad line.

Around Computer, I started to notice I was nearly dry from in-service.  I had brought a change of clothes since I have to wear my shirt in the pool since the swim suit doesn't cover my tattoo, but I opted to stay in the wet clothes just to stay cooler.  So there I am, walking over to Hippy 2 thinking "I'm almost dry, and I managed to not get my hip pack or hair wet in IST.  But, just my luck I'll probably get vatted at Hippy."  I scanned onto Hippy 2 and noticed Nicole, who I was bumping, was acting very strange.  She didn't say anything to me, which isn't uncommon, but it was in more of an awkward way.  I could feel something coming.  But then again, I thought maybe something had happened on that stand that shook her up a bit.  She gave me the all clear and I sat down.  It was hot and I was nearly dry, so I started to drink some water, still scanning my water.  I look down in front of my stand and there's Adam, one of our coordinators.  Well, if Adam is in the water, so is a VAT.

And then I saw it.  Right in the middle of one of the petals, a silhouette of a child laying at the bottom of the pool.  I blow my whistle loudly, point, and jump off the stand.  I took two steps before I was in the water.  I swam over to the VAT, pushed my rescue tube aside, and dove for it.  (All 3 1/2 feet.)

Lauren and Juan, another one of our managers, came over to my stand and the four of us--Adam included--gathered around to talk.  "How do you think you did?  What do you think your time was?" Juan asked, kind of solemnly.  "I don't know, 5 seconds maybe."  (Side note, Adam had already told me in the water I got it fairly quickly.)  "10 at the most."  "And why do you think that?" Lauren asked in the same tone.  "Um, I don't know."  I was definitely starting to get the feeling it had been over the allotted 30 seconds and I would be just another guard that failed their first VAT.  "What was my time then?"  "FIVE SECONDS!" they said in unison.  Phew!  They went on to say I did a great job pointing confidently.  Most guards on their first VAT do a double take and just hop in, apparently.  All the adrenaline shook me up a bit and I kept checking that spot over and over again just to make sure there wasn't still something there.

They said I would get a t-shirt and be able to sign the Wall of Fame in the coordinator's office.  YAY!

On my next stand, Hippy 3, there was an AFR on the side of the pool by Hippy 2.  If you remember from my quiz, an AFR is basically when someone poops in the pool.  So we had to close the pool and walk around and tidy some stuff up.  One of the guests started asking me questions about the closing and somehow the other two life guards and Adam ended up all talking to this guy.  Somehow he managed to work in that he had open heart surgery in 2005, and I said "ME TOO!"  He asked me about my surgery and I asked him about his.  It was very interesting.  It's nice to bond with a guest like that because usually we're just yelling at people to walk or jump in feet first.

The rest of the day was uneventful.  (Except that I did have a conversation with a guest in Spanish.  YAY!)  The air conditioning in the break room made for my first two breaks to be very uncomfortable.  And I was finally starting to dry off when I was back at Computer for the second time.  Of course it started to rain then.  Luckily, it stopped within minutes and I stayed somewhat dry.  But hey, I went home dry and that's all that matters.

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