Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Opinion

August 12, 2013

Life savers

Greenbo pool guards make the right moves to save boy

ASHLAND — Lifeguards undergo many hours of training on what to do during different kinds of emergencies, but until a real emergency occurs, no lifeguard knows exactly how he or she will react or whether they will react as trained or panic.

Well, Greenbo State Resort Park lifeguards Cheyenne Boggs and Alivia Bustetter and pool manager Shane Wireman have been tested and they passed with flying colors. They followed their training to a T and as a result, they probably saved the life of 5-year-old Cash Ratcliff.

 Cash was playing in the pool with his younger cousin, Caden, who was wearing “arm floaties,” when things took a sudden turn.

“We saw Cash pulling the other boy down. But, when Caden got away from him Cash was still under,” Boggs said, adding she immediately jumped in to rescue him while Wireman  waited at the edge of the pool and Bustetter prepared to call 911 if necessary.

When Cheyenne got Cash to the side of the pool, Wireman asked if he was OK. Boggs just shook her head no, Bustetter said. She immediately call 911.

Once the young boy had been loaded into the ambulance, Boggs said the stress of the situation hit her quite hard.

“After, my hands were just shaking really bad. I was just thinking, ‘What if I can’t save him?’” she said, explaining she might have had a brief moment of panic when she was swimming out to get him, but otherwise followed her training and knew what needed to be done.

Wireman credited the lifeguards’ training, as well as weekly drills to reinforce their emergency action plan, for the quick and proper response to the situation.

Cash’s  mother, Stephanie, was with her family at the pool celebrating sister Launa’s 10th birthday. She was cleaning up after the party when she heard someone scream.

“They had already gotten him from the pool. I do remember running over,” she said, noting she essentially froze up when she realized the team of lifeguards were working on her son. “I was probably five feet away and I knew they were working on my son, but I just couldn’t respond.”

With her husband, Robbie, on the scene along with her sister, Lesley Hicks, who is a cardiac nurse at KDMC, as well as her cousin, Katie McDowell, who is a nurse at Cabell-Huntington, Ratcliff remembers seeing her son’s eyes fluttering and then opening in response to the immediate first-aid he received.

“He immediately started to struggle and I snapped out of it and went to him and said, ‘Mom’s here,’” she said, adding he was cold and making grunting sounds. “The only thought I had in my mind was, ‘How long was he under the water?’ Thank God they reacted so quickly.”

Ratcliff said she felt compelled to bring her youngest son back to the pool for a reunion with the lifeguard team. “Mostly I just wanted to thank them personally, and for them to see him healthy and happy,” she said, later adding she credits God’s will for her son’s life.

While Cheyenne Boggs, who is just 16, pulled Cash from the water,  Wireman and Bustetter were critical members of the team, performing their assigned roles perfectly just ast they were trained to do.

Ratcliff said there was another unseen member of the life-saving team: “Without God, none of this would have been possible. He gave Cheyenne the strength to do what she needed to do. I know her training helped, but had God’s favor not been on him ... and, when I found out she (Cheyenne) was 16, we worried about her and you guys.”

The pool team visited Cash during his overnight hospital stay and Ratcliff said her son wasted no time telling Boggs “I love you.”

For many teens, being a lifeguard is agra summer job that enables them to earn  little extra money while getting a great tan and being able to take a quick dip in the pool when things get a little hot. But being a lifeguard is not all fun in the sun. Ut is a serious job that requires a lot of training and the ability to sty calm in times of emergency.

When Cheyenne Boggs, Alivia Bustetter and Shane Wireman were called to put their training into action, they saved a life. What could possibly be more satisfying than that? We commend them.

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