When I was sixteen I had my first job as a lifeguard. “Cool job!” I thought, “I’ll make tons of money ($5.50) and all I have to do is sit there.” I took the course and soon was hired at two local pools.
One day as I was half asleep in the lifeguard stand I was rudely interrupted by a stocky fifteen year old kid. “What do you want?” I look down at him. I feel all-powerful up in my chair looking down at the boy who is a whole year younger than me.
Him: Do you have an aspirin?
Me: No. Why would you need an aspirin?
Him: No, it’s just that my friend just hit her head and she has a headache.
Me: SHE HIT HER HEAD?
SIRENS GO OFF IN MY MIND AS I HAVE FLASHBACKS OF LIFEGUARD TRAINING.
“If someone hits their head,” my teacher had explained, “they have a likely chance of a spinal injury and you must treat them accordingly.”
I blew my whistle and jumped in the pool. Only then did I realize I didn’t know who the girl was. Patrons stared at me as I swam around mindlessly. The other lifeguards looked bewildered from their stands. I swam to one girl, “Did you hit your head?” “Uh, no.” Strike one. I swim to another girl, “Did you hit your head?” She says yes but looks confused. She is about fifteen and there at the pool with her friends. “Per protocol, we have to backboard you to ensure that there is no spinal injury.” I motion for the other guard to bring the backboard. We strap her to it. She is embarrassed as can be as her friends watch in awe.
To make a long story short, since she was an unaccompanied minor, we had to call the paramedics. They came only to un-strap her and tell her that she was fine.
The good news as she told me: “Well, I don’t have a headache anymore.”