The Mid-Dakota Chapter of the American Red Cross is offering the Aquatic Training Institute May 29 through June 4. The Institute will offer lifeguard certification classes, water safety instructor classes and lifeguard management classes. The classes are intended to help participants bring water safety into their communities.
"We offer classes so we can offer our community pools a safe environment. Not only do we try to propel lifeguarding, but also lifeguard instructors who can offer swimming lessons in their community," said Diane Chilson, director of Health and Safety Services for the Mid-Dakota Chapter.
"Our goal is to have everybody be swimmers," she added.
Submitted Photo - - Diane Chilson speaks to a group of young swimmers during a swimming class at Roosevelt Pools as Pat Schmidt, left, and Pat Ordahl look on.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - Diane Chilson, director of Health and Safety Services for the Mid-Dakota Chapter of the American Red Cross, holds up a Water Safety Institute manual in her office.
Submitted Photo - - Pat Schmidt, left, and Diane Chilson get in the water with their students during a swimming class last summer.
To be a lifeguard, Chilson said, individuals must be at least 15; and water safety instructors must be 16. Those who enter the classes must also pass prerequisite swimming tests and other requirements.
"We are looking for youth anywhere in the 13 counties we serve. We are also the contact point for classes going on in other communities," Chilson said.
At last year's institute, Chilson said, the Red Cross trained 85 lifeguards and 62 water safety instructors. The 62 water safety instructors went on to teach 519 students.
"We do instill confidence in them with their skills. There are always scenarios that happen, but I'm very confident that the people we train have the ability to safeguard their patrons," Chilson said.
The institute began 27 years ago when the Red Cross started offering instruction to individuals at Y camp, and expanded to include community pool staff as well. Over the years, the class has evolved to include more water safety information.
"Twenty years ago, we did not have any rescue equipment," Chilson said. "Now, it's very standard to have a rescue tube, which are the premiere water safety device. We train lifeguards on the use of rescue tubes, in-line stabilization for spinal cord injuries, CPR and first aid, and how to handle an emergency until help arrives."
For more information on the Water Safety Institute, call the Mid-Dakota Chapter of the American Red Cross at 852-2828 or visit (www.minotredcross.org) to view the institute's schedule and class information.