Silver Lake lifeguard did well in a team skills test

By Kate Reardon

Herald Writer

EVERETT — A lifeguard who helped with rescue efforts during a drowning and a near-drowning on Sunday at Silver Lake was part of a team that placed second in a rescue relay at an international lifeguarding competition earlier this month in Texas.

Lifeguards found two men underwater Sunday afternoon in the lake.

Alejandro Salinas, 21, of the Federal Way area, died Sunday. The Snohomish County medical examiner determined he died of fresh-water drowning and said the death was an accident.

The other man, whose name has not been released, was in satisfactory condition at an Everett hospital Sunday night. No details about him were available on Monday.

The man who survived had been underwater two minutes or less before lifeguards pulled him from the water, Everett Fire Marshal Warren Burns said Monday. The man who died had been underwater eight to 10 minutes before he was found, Burns said.

"That’s a long time," he said.

The names of the lifeguards involved in Sunday’s rescue were not released.

"These are pretty highly motivated folks," said Lori Cummings, recreation superintendent for the city’s parks and recreation department.

In fact, Everett’s lifeguards not only have the state-required training and certifications, but nine of the 11 guards also have open-water diving certifications.

And that’s pretty unusual.

"It’s very rare to find lifeguards who are trained in scuba," said Mike Oostman, a director at Jeff Ellis and Associates aquatic safety consultants.

Water safety tips

  • Use proper gear such as a life jacket or personal flotation device.

  • Make sure you are in good enough condition and can physically handle the sport.

  • Make an emergency plan and review it before you go in the water.

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs while engaged in activities in or on the water.

  • Don’t go into the water alone – have a buddy.

  • Dress in bright colors so searchers can see you.

  • Tie a whistle to your life jacket to use in an emergency.

  • Oostman, who was in Everett on Monday to investigate Sunday’s incident and monitor the well-being of guards involved the incident, said his company has quite a few clients who operate on lakes, but very few who are certified in scuba.

    Ellis and Associates is the consulting agency hired by Everett that oversees the city’s lifeguard training and also does surprise audits on guards.

    The surprise audits include videotaping lifeguards during visits to the beach to make sure they are scanning the water, have the proper gear and follow lifeguarding rules, Oostman said. They also test guards in a simulated situation.

    Everett guards have done very, very well, he said.

    A lot of care goes into making sure the beach at Silver Lake is safe for swimmers.

    In the mornings and evenings, lifeguards put on their diving gear and scan the perimeter of the Silver Lake park swim area to remove debris and make sure the area is safe, said Denise McCoy, recreation supervisor with Everett parks and recreation.

    "You hear mostly about (drownings), but we have more rescues that are successful," McCoy said, adding the guards recorded 20 assists this summer where they’ve helped someone to shore.

    You can call Herald Writer Kate Reardon at 425-339-3455 or send e-mail to reardon@heraldnet.com.

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