By Candateshia Pafford, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (March, 2013) — A lifeguard at the Yano Fitness Center here was recognized March 12 for rescuing a drowning Soldier March 5 at the Yano swimming pool.
While on duty, Somers Overly watched Soldiers from the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion train for the Commander’s Cup, the installation’s intramural sports competition, when she noticed a Soldier grasping his chest and submerging underwater while attempting to swim to a lane in the pool.
Overly said all of her lifeguard training instantly kicked in as she signaled fellow lifeguards to make them aware that she was going into the pool to rescue the Soldier.
“My whole body went through the actions without me even knowing it,” Overly said.
Overly, along with help from another Soldier, removed the drowning Soldier from the water and to safety while others contacted emergency services.
Overly was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation from the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion commander for performing her lifeguard duties.
An avid swimmer since childhood, Overly said it was her love of the water that led her to begin the training to become a certified lifeguard nearly a year and half ago.
“Surveillance is the most important tool for a lifeguard,” Overly said.
When Overly is on duty, she said she continuously counts the number of swimmers in the water to ensure she is not missing anyone or that a swimmer has not stayed underwater too long.
Overly also pays close attention to the swimmers getting in and out of the water and monitors their individual swimming abilities. By knowing who the better swimmers in the water are, Overly said she knows which ones need to take a break.
It is a common misconception that lifeguards simply sit by the pool and do nothing, Overly said. Most do not realize that lifeguards are trained to react immediately when something happens, she said.
“We have a lot of down time,” because incidents don’t occur often, Overly said, but “when something happens, we are trained for that.”
The lifeguards at the Yano also conduct training classes for Soldiers and civilians to educate them on water safety.
“The training that they give us is very important,” said Lt. Col. Joseph O. Ritter, commander of the 35th CSSB.
Ritter said the Yano lifeguards help Soldiers with safety survival training and aviator rescue training that aids Soldiers when they find themselves in emergency situations.
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