It was the beginning of the final week of the summer swimming season, when a fall from the high dive brought lifeguards at Yankton’s Memorial Pool to the rescue — a job they reportedly carried out with distinction.
Lily Diedrichsen, lifeguard at the pool, was stationed near the diving boards on Aug. 12 when she saw a boy slip while climbing down the ladder from the high diving board.
"He fell from the second step down, fell on the little boy below him and (then) hit his head on the ground," said Diedrichsen. "I whistled, I went over to him and I saw he was bleeding."
The rest of the guards stayed where they were while pool manager Kyra Liebig rushed out and assessed the situation.
"The first boy is the one who cracked his head open pretty bad," Liebig said. "The other one, we were nervous that his spine might have been crunched."
The lifeguards stabilized the second boy’s spine along with that of the boy who fell, and put pressure on a head laceration in an effort to stop the bleeding, she said.
"We decided to try and keep their heads and necks stable to prevent any further injuries to the spine or the head," said lifeguard Owen Phillips. "The EMTs came and we back-boarded the kid who fell from the top and he went in the ambulance. The other kid seemed OK, so he rode with his grandparents to the hospital."
"The two boys did awesome," Liebig said. "They stayed conscious the whole time. We were talking to them, making sure that they were OK and calming down."
Lifeguard Haley Larson called 911 and set about contacting the boys’ parents.
"One of the other employees opened the back gate," Liebig said. "We did close the rest of the pool because we needed all the help we could get stabilizing (the boys)."
Assistant Fire Chief Larry Nickles said that emergency responders were impressed with the lifeguards’ handling of the situation.
"They administered first aid and c-spine (cervical spine immobilization) on both children," Nickles said. "They also evacuated that part of the pool and kept the other kids there until it was over."
The lifeguards’ reaction to the emergency demonstrated the success of the training each was required to receive before assuming the job of lifeguard, Nickles said.
"It went really smoothly," Nickles said. "They had the gate open at the south end of the pool, and EMS and the police department and myself were able to get right in there. That doesn’t always happen."
Nickles noted that the first thing he did was to look around the pool area and check on the other children there, to make sure they were OK and none had been upset by the scene.
"The lifeguards didn’t just panic and stand there," he said. "They took charge of the scene and it went well. It shows that their training is well worth it."
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