You have to be prepared for any scenario as a Lifeguard. Injuries aren’t pretty and can range from a simple cut that needs a band aid to a serious spinal injury. To deal with this emergency, the use of a Lifeguard Spineboard, otherwise known as a back board, is vital to saving the swimmer.
When Do You Use a Lifeguard Spineboard?
The use of a Lifeguard Spinal Board is only necessary in emergencies that are suspected to be an injury to the spine. Unlike other drowning victims, those that may have a spinal injury need to be saved with as little movement as possible. This is to avoid making the injury worse and resulting in paralysis.
It’s important to mention that the Lifeguard Spineboard should only be used when the victim is conscious. If the victim is unconscious, remove them from the pool safely, but as quickly as possible. There’s no need to avoid paralysis, because now you are trying to avoid a death.
It Takes a Team
When performing a Lifeguard Spinal Rescue, a team of two or three is the ideal rescue squad. The Lifeguard on duty should signal a spinal rescue with the pool’s emergency action plan (EAP). After signaling the EAP, that Lifeguard should enter the water with as little movement as possible by using a slide-in entry. The key with spinal rescues is to avoid movement of the victim.
Next, manually stabilize the victim by using their arms as a makeshift splint and check for breathing. If conscious, proceed with spinal back boarding. This is where your second Lifeguard will arrive with the backboard. Together, secure the victim onto the board using straps, head blocks and supports, and other accessories. Make sure one Lifeguard is manually stabilizing the victim’s head as you proceed in securing them to the spine board.
Once the victim is fully secured to the backboard, carefully remove them from the water and proceed with care.
Use With Other Life Saving Tools
The point of using a spine board with a drowning victim is to minimize movement and properly align the victim’s head and spine for a safe entry out of the water. Make sure your Lifeguard Water Backboard has all the necessary accessories attached to it at all times.
A chest strap should be secured to the spine board to properly strap the victim on to the spine board. You should also have a head immobilizer that Velcro’s to the board for proper head alignment and security. Make sure to secure this device with a head strap and make sure all other straps are secured in place before removing the victim from the water.
Spinal injuries aren’t the most common, but they still can occur. Using a spine board can also be the most challenging rescue method for lifeguards. Practice makes perfect with spinal rescues, so make sure to perfect your skills through training before an actual spinal emergency happens.