Lifeguards set for competition in Cranberry
Eagle Staff Writer
Written by:
July 26, 2014

CRANBERRY TWP — The township will host a competition among lifeguards Sunday from surrounding counties and municipalities.

Dave Hutner, a member of the township’s parks and recreations department, said he organized the event that’s been held since 2000.

Usually held in Butler, Hutner brought the event to Cranberry this year after being hired in its parks and recreation department.

Each team will consist of three lifeguards from municipalities including Cranberry, Alameda Park in Butler Township and several teams from Armstrong County.

There are 12 teams registered for the competition, which will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. Sunday in Cranberry’s Community Waterpark. The free event is open to the public.

Hutner said the teams will compete for prizes in nine events designed to test lifeguard’s stamina, knowledge and fitness. There also will be a graded and timed written test.

There will be an obstacle courses, tug of war in the pool, CPR scenarios and spinal injury management scenarios.

The activity is designed to be competitive and fun, but also to help lifeguards realize the importance of their daily jobs in protecting lives.

“It gets the competitive juices flowing and it’s a fun time,” Hutner said. “But the whole thing is designed to showcase the skills of the lifeguards and to act as a training device.”

Hutner said he conceived of the idea while working in the parks department of a town in South Carolina.

His team of lifeguards didn’t take the event seriously and finished last, a showing that irked team members and forced them to improve on their skills.

Hutner came to Butler and started a similar lifeguard challenge in 2000.

The event also helps the public understand that although many of the lifeguards are teenagers, they have a serious job when it comes to saving lives.

“It helps promote public awareness of trained responders and the job they do,” he said. “These kids are 15, 16 or 17. They’re young, but they are lifesavers when it comes to the water. Sometimes people overlook that.”

Hutner added that lifeguard challenges are a “widely-used model” for increasing proficiency and morale among lifeguards, as it also produces a competitive camaraderie.

He said most events around the country include similar competitions that deal primarily with speed of response, swimming skill, CPR and first aid knowledge.

Each event will be judged by certified trainers.

The winning team will receive a trophy, which will go to that team’s pool, where it will stay until next year. Each member of the winning team will also have his name inscribed on the trophy.