Carmichael: Being a lifeguard is still cool and can prepare you for life (column) | VailDaily.com

Carmichael: Being a lifeguard is still cool and can prepare you for life (column)

Kacy Carmichael

©Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District

Even though the show "Baywatch" is not as popular as it once was, it's still cool to be a lifeguard. Here at the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District, we are starting to recruit lifeguards for the upcoming summer season with a training scheduled for April 23-27. Working as a lifeguard gives teenagers valuable work experience, skills, an opportunity to explore different career paths and the chance to meet new people.

Meet Carson Patterson, who is 22 and started working for WECMRD as a lifeguard shortly after he graduated from Eagle Valley High School. I sat down with Patterson to discuss how becoming a lifeguard for WECMRD has influenced his character and decision to pursue a career in public safety.

"Being a lifeguard for WECMRD has prepared me for so many opportunities in life. It has taught me responsibility, respect and leadership. Lifeguarding prepares you for real-world work challenges," Patterson said.

Patterson graduated from high school in 2014 and was training to become a firefighter, his first experience in public safety. He wanted to become a lifeguard because he knew the rigorous training and experience in emergency response and first aid would give him a leg up when pursuing his real passion, a career in public safety.

"Lifeguarding has taught me the necessary skills to move forward with my career goals. I am exploring a variety of careers in public safety, and because of the experience I received as a WECMRD lifeguard, I'm fully prepared," Patterson said.

Through his combination of lifeguard training and firefighter training, Patterson was able to handle several serious first aid incidents. He demonstrated he could keep a calm head during an emergency and give the best possible care to every person at Gypsum Recreation Center.

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Along with gaining valuable work experience, he also improved his leadership and communication skills.

Patterson always remembers little details about our guests. He makes their day brighter by turning on the waterfall for swimmers without reminder or grabbing pool floats for the special needs adult groups before they even ask. His positive attitude is contagious at work. He teaches co-workers how to properly lift weights, volunteers at roller derby bouts and even joined the ballet to fulfill a male role for another lifeguard's dance recital.

If you're interested in becoming a lifeguard for WECMRD, then we have an upcoming week-long training during spring break, April 23-27 at the Gypsum Recreation Center. Being a lifeguard at WECMRD comes with perks like free access to our facilities and shift breaks to focus on homework once other tasks are complete. You can learn more, apply and register for an upcoming training at http://www.wecmrd.org.

"I would recommend this job to any high school and college student. Working as a WECMRD lifeguard is prefect for all students because shifts are very flexible," Patterson said.

We will certainly miss him here at WECMRD — he's been an essential part of the Gypsum Recreation Center staff. Cheers to your next adventure in life, Carson.

Kacy Carmichael is the aquatics manager for WECMRD. When she's not working you'll find her snowboarding, mountain biking or playing roller derby.