Trainees line up, get ready to jump in the water, and the whistle blows! Swim 300 yards, tread water for 2 minutes without hands, swim 20 yards to retrieve a 10-pound weight from the bottom of the pool, then swim with the weight back to the starting point in under 1 minute and 40 seconds. This is the first test Red Cross trainees must pass on their way to becoming certified life guards, administered by Red Cross hero and Lifeguard Instructor Thurston-Perry Moon.
“I train each lifeguard to save lives,” said Moon, who initially became a certified lifeguard through the Red Cross in 1999.
“I became involved with the Red Cross, since their training has the highest standards in providing adequate care for a drowning victim or other water emergencies,” he said.
Moon, a Philadelphia native, has been a Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor (LGI) since 2010 in Philadelphia and Southeastern PA.
He holds about 12 training sessions every spring and summer across Southeastern PA, training between 50 to 100 guards per season.
“It’s a very diverse group [of trainees], all ages, ethnicities, and different backgrounds,” said Moon.
May is Water Safety Month, which comes at a perfect time as swimmers, campers and people of all ages are gearing up for summer fun in the water. The American Red Cross plays a key role in this national campaign, providing education and training in water safety, and swim lessons.
“The most successful lifeguard candidates start out taking Red Cross swim lessons; this is an important pipeline,” explained Moon, a father and middle-School math teacher in Philadelphia.
You can download the free American Red Cross Swim App, as a companion to the Learn-to-Swim program. The app keeps the swimmer motivated and provides the latest in water safety guidelines.
Moon serves a Red Cross trainer in several roles.
“I also hold CPR and first aid training courses so community members can help someone who is a victim of a gunshot wound,” he said.
He is currently fundraising to continue these efforts to combat increasing violence.He makes whole blood donations about 5 times per year and continued throughout the pandemic.
Moon comes from a long line of heroes.
His grandfather, Joseph Mander, 41, died in the Schuylkill River while trying to save the life of a child, Paul Waxman, 7, who had fallen into the river in 1952. Mander held the boy above the water, but suddenly both were pulled under and downed. A plaque near the river commemorates Mander’s heroic efforts.
“This empowered me and my family to make water safety a priority in our lives,” said Moon.
Trained lifeguards are prepared for rapid response in case of a water emergency.The mastery test at the end of the training includes two written tests for CPR and first aid skills, an in-water aquatic rescue test, and the candidate must demonstrate proper execution of CPR on dry land, according to Moon.
To find out more about training opportunities visit this link.
- by Erica Silverman