December 15, 2020

Justin Malone

"Can my friend get some water? She is overheating!" I overhear as I finish eating my fast food that somehow passes for a meal. As you know, curiosity killed the cat, and thank goodness I am not a feline because I would need many more than nine lives. As the battle between laziness and curiosity comes to an end, I get up out of my chair, and follow the boy and another lifeguard walk around the pool taking their time finding a cup and filling it with water. When we finally meet "the friend," we realize that she is experiencing something much more serious than just overheating, as she did not have the strength to lift herself out of her seat. Her skin was so pale that I almost had to put my sunglasses back on. I scream over to my supervisor, "Kayla! Get the bag!"

That day my "communication education" took a significant step forward. As she came running I reached down to take the friend's pulse and I could not find it. We then put a device on her finger to measure her heart rate and oxygen levels. Her heart rate was about 250 beats per minute. None of us there had a medical degree, but we all knew a heart rate that rapid is life threatening. I immediately had began performing all of the first aid procedures to try and lower her heart rate and called 911. The stress seemingly connected between us started to skyrocket, I watched gut-wrenchingly as tears fell down her cheek, she read my face like a book. My supervisor took a different approach; Kayla began a conversation with her, asking her what grade she was in, where she went to school, and what sports she enjoyed. This tactic baffled me. I thought to myself, how incompetent for a supervisor to leave the all of the work up to a subordinate. I did not realize at first that Kayla's approach had a hidden motive. Then I saw it clearly, why she had taken a seemingly backwards approach. The girl began to laugh and her tears stopped as they formed a bond over their shared interest in soccer. You could watch as the intensity felt between us faded, evident in the fact that the girl's heart rate began to fall. Eventually the ambulance arrived and I watched as the first thing the technicians did was crack a joke and even I could not help but to laugh. Looking back it's almost as if I was in the crowd, watching, omnisciently, as one lifeguard was working with equipment, checking a girl's vitals and calling 911. As the girl become distressed, another lifeguard begins to talk calmly, smiling and laughing, treating this girl as if they had been close friends for 30 years instead of seconds. I realized then that the way I had been treating people in certain situations lacked a significant piece.

I learned something that day about people in need and how to help them not just physically but mentally, allowing patients to feel more like people. As I continue my education not only through school, but work, and other community events, I look forward to not only learning more in academia but learning how to better understand and communicate with others. As much as I enjoy learning in school, I have never struggled nor spent as much time working towards any subject, besides refining how I understand and communication with others. The most important skill, in my opinion, is the ability to communicate effectively. I often forget the fact that others have just as many things going though their minds all of the time as I do. Although it is easier to just ignore that fact, I think the most valuable people in this world have mastered the art of understanding and communicating.

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