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JCC State of Mind – January 12, 2024

Posted by Admin on January 12, 2024

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to join the JCC’s talented team of lifeguards for a mandatory training session at our South Hills pool. Organized and led by a number of key members of our aquatics staff – Carla Hartley, Sarah Grimm, Anna Rose Watterson, Lex Glickman, Tim Griffith and Emily Lawrence – we discussed general preparedness, proper surveillance and water rescue techniques, teamwork, communication skills and customer service. While I know the training itself was important, I hope that everyone in attendance also gained a better appreciation for how lifeguards play a significant role in serving community.

Being a lifeguard is not just a job; it is first and foremost a commitment to the safety and well-being of those we serve. The importance of lifeguards goes beyond the poolside or lakefront – it is about safeguarding lives, fostering a sense of security and creating a space where everyone can enjoy water activities without fear. Lifeguards are the frontline defenders against aquatic emergencies, and their vigilant presence ensures a quick response to any distress, prevents accidents, facilitates a healthy lifestyle and contributes to the overall well-being of our community.

As is the case with so many positions at the JCC, I am also excited about the important soft skills our dedicated lifeguards are building and how the role is a powerful catalyst for professional development in important areas specifically called out in the 2016 Bridging the Soft Skills Gap report published by the Allegheny Conference on Economic Development.

  • Taking Initiative: Entrusted with the safety of others, lifeguards are required to make quick decisions and take charge in emergency situations. This experience fosters the ability to lead with confidence and assertiveness.
  • Communication: Effective communication is paramount for lifeguards in conveying safety instructions, providing clear directions and coordinating efforts during emergencies. The role sharpens both verbal and non-verbal communication skills, teaching lifeguards the importance of clarity, empathy and adaptability in their interactions.
  • Accountability: Lifeguards learn to prioritize and manage tasks efficiently, understanding the weight of their role in preventing accidents and responding effectively to emergencies.
  • Resilience and Problem-Solving: Lifeguards often encounter challenging situations that demand quick thinking and flexibility. Lifeguards learn to stay composed under pressure, adjust to dynamic situations and devise effective solutions.
  • Teamwork and Collaboration: In many instances, lifeguards work as part of a team to ensure comprehensive surveillance and swift responses to emergencies. The collaborative nature of the role teaches individuals the importance of mutual support.

I walked away from the pool last weekend truly inspired by the work our lifeguards engage in each and every day as well as their dedication to keeping our community safe. Further reflection on the broader role this segment of our staff plays has reinforced the significant growth opportunities available to them that extend beyond just the confines of water safety. Here is to our entire aquatics staff for taking the time to hone their skills, for their commitment to continuous improvement and the future challenges and opportunities they will be better prepared to tackle.

Wishing you and your families a Shabbat shalom.


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Last weekend, I had the opportunity to join the JCC’s talented team of lifeguards for a mandatory training session at our South Hills pool. Organize...
read more