Obstetricians are lifeguards


Lifeguards are over used.

Think about it:

  • Swimming is a natural process.
  • Water is entirely natural.
  • Animals swim all the time without difficulty.
  • If death by drowning were common we wouldn’t be here.
  • Most rescues result in children and adults who are perfectly fine.

Yet despite these incontrovertible facts, people have been socialized to believe that public pools and public beaches need lifeguards.

[pullquote align=”right” color=”#F6BE00″]Some children are just meant to drown.[/pullquote]

We should simply trust swimmming.

Our ancestors trusted swimming. They swam in lakes, rivers and oceans and never used lifeguards. Children were free to jump into filled quarries and from small cliffs and frolicked at the seashore without anyone watching for sharks. Everyone understood that some people are just meant to drown.

The last 100 years have seen the rise of the lifeguard with all the technology that implies. Lifeguards sit on tall chairs above swimmers as though they knew more about swimming than the swimmers themselves. They carry whistles (unnatural), use binonculars (unnatural) and have rescue equipment like jet skis (highly technological) at their disposal.

Most of what they do is thoroughly unnecessary. Yes, some people really do need to be rescued from drowning. How do we know? Those are the people who sustain permanent brain damage or die despite rescue. But the truth is that most people “rescued” by lifeguards end up perfectly fine, demonstrating that they didn’t need to be rescued in the first place.

So why are there so many unnecessary rescues?

Isn’t it obvious? Lifeguards are worried that if we understood how uncommon drowning really is, their incomes would be threatened. Therefore they stage “rescues” of floundering men, women and children that were entirely unnecessary.

How accurate in lifeguard monitoring anyway? Judging by the fact that most of the people pulled from the water don’t even require professional medical care, lifeguard monitoring is basically useless.

Why is lifeguard monitoring such a failure? It’s because lifeguard monitoring has high sensitivity, but low specificity. Sure, if you are really drowning (as demonstrated by your subsequent death), lifeguards will recognize it nearly every time (high sensitivity). But many people who appear to be drowning (flailing, lying motionless, disappearing under the surface without reappearing) are perfectly fine when plucked from the water (low specificity). Even those who don’t appear to be fine initially do quite well if transported to the local hospital for treatment.

We are spending a fortune on lifeguards who are entirely unnecessary. How can we simultaneously save money and return swimming to the natural process that it has always been? Instead of hiring lifeguards, we should hire certified professional monitors (CPMs) to preside over swimming. The hallmark of certified professional monitors is that they are experts in normal swimming. CPMs trust swimmming because they recognize that it is a natural process to be savored, not a potential disaster to be feared.

CPMs don’t routinely employ technology like whistles and binoculars, although they do keep them in their cars in the parking lots so they can use them in the exact same way as real lifeguards; however, they use them ONLY when an emergency develops, not when everything is fine. They don’t sit on tall chairs looming above everyone else. Indeed they don’t even face the swimmers! Since monitoring swimmers is limited by low sensitivity, it is obviously useless to watch them. Watching swimmers merely leads to unnecessary “rescues” of people who might never have drowned if left on their own.

Certified professional monitors know that there is plenty of time to transfer care in the event of a real emergency. Once others have pulled the blue, pulseless child from the water CPMs can perform CPR, dial 911 and await the arrival of the ambulance crew. No doubt some of those pulled from the water won’t survive, but let’s face it some children are just meant to drown.

Think of all the money we could save by employing CPMs who are paid much less than real lifeguards!

But the real benefits of using CPMs (or no one at all) is that we can return swimming to the pristine state it occupied in nature. Instead of viewing swimmers as potential drownings waiting to happen, we would trust the natural process of swimming by returning to the traditional practices of our ancestors. Swimming ought to be a spiritual experience, unmarred by technology, not an employment opportunity for technocratic lifeguards who claim to be rescuing people who in reality would have been perfectly fine without them.

Trust swimming! Use monitors who are experts in normal swimming. Above all, restrict the use of lifeguards to true emergencies only. Prevention is entirely overrated. The experience of swimming is so much more important than the outcome!