Muncy pool’s lifeguards trained to supervise patrons’ safety
MUNCY – It was unfortunate that a body had to go unnoticed for two days at the bottom of the Veterans Memorial pool in Fall River outside of Boston just a few weeks ago. Officials continue to investigate why a woman’s body went unnoticed for two days at the bottom of the pool while people swam under lifeguards’ supervision.
Among the key questions under investigation are how cloudy was the water, and did lifeguards act appropriately?
With a community day held this past Saturday and another scheduled for August 13th, the 13 lifeguards employed at the R.J. Patrizio community pool in Muncy are trained to use caution at all times and have a certification through the American Red Cross.
“Although we hope that no drownings will ever occur, I can’t see how that could happen at our pool,” said Woody Fry, the pool’s manager.
“At some time there might be a need to pull a distressed swimmer out of the water,” according to Fry. “If a child is seen struggling, we try not to create further anxieties, but attend to the situation as needed. It’s all about maintaining good judgement and instinct. It’s paramount!,” he added.
From the 13, with four certified lifeguards on duty at all times, it would be difficult to have any mishaps or drownings. “We rotate one guard out every half hour,” Fry said. That way two are always on a chair while the third one is a walking guard to check the pool and observe the different areas, the children’s play area, water slides and the wading pool. “We are fortunate that we have some very experienced lifeguards with us,” he added. Depending on usage level on community days, an extra lifeguard is added. One chair monitors the diving boards while the others view the entire pool.
The more experienced ones have more duty time, while the less experienced guards substitute more until they become more mature. “They more or less have to work up the ladder,” Fry commented. “This way things are more balanced out.”
Head guards Devon Antonetti and Megan Muffly help to keep accountability for the lifeguards and assist Fry with the pool. One is in charge the first half of the season, and the other takes over the second half. Both of these Muncy High School graduates have close to five years experience as certified lifeguards at the Muncy pool. They are also certified with CPR and emergency training. “I have to become re-certified every year,” said Antonetti.
Mrs. Amanda Sheets, Sr. High Math teacher at East Lycoming School District, is the assistant manager, and Sheets or Fry are there every day. The pool is open 7 days a week and according to Fry somebody who knows what’s going on is always there in charge.
The primary duty of all is the safety of the patrons. They must also perform daily pool tests. “We check it every day. If the pool is murky or cloudy and you can’t see the bottom of your pool, then something is wrong,” Fry stated. “We do these tests at least 3 times a day.”
Cloudy water means there is a chemical imbalance or something is wrong with the filtration system. “If the water is not clear enough, then we keep everyone out of the pool,” responded Antonetti. The chlorine and PH can change over the course of each day and determines a pool’s overall good health. “On a hot sunny day, the chlorine levels can easily be sucked out of the pool, and this can make the wading pool a challenge,” Fry said.
Fry also noted that every week Muncy pool’s water is tested by Keystone Water Company and maintained according to specifications. Lab reports are sent and reviewed to make sure a certain level of bacteria and coliform are regulated according to guidelines with the Department of Health.
“We can see the bottom of the pool. In some cases the water can get stirred up and possibly get cloudy. But before the pool cover is taken off or put on, we check to see within a certain diameter to be able to see the bottom of the pool,” Fry said. “You have to be able to see the bottom of the pool, and we check for that every day,” assured Antonetti who is a business major at the University of Pittsburgh. The managers are trained and certified by the Dept. of Agriculture to check and adjust the chemicals to meet standards, appropriate PH and chlorine levels. PH measures the acidity of the water and should fall in the range of 7.2 to 7.8. The Muncy pool is maintained between a 2 and a 3 according to Fry.
Other responsibilities are scheduling and setting up swimming lessons. For groups such as Bostley’s Day Care, levels of experience are determined first. “Ultimately it is the guardian’s responsibility to know their child’s swimming capability.”
Antonetti added, “So far I have never seen anything here that has been near a drowning. We work hard to prevent things like that, any major traumatic accidents from happening.”
Other lifeguards employed at the pool are Amy Waldron, Kristen Fry, Aneesa Golshan, Cain Lamper, Jenny Santo, Molly Hitesman, Brad Fischer, Isaiah Bobotas, Matt Heinrich, and Kalynn Newman.