May-Day! Surf Lifesaving Resuscitation Symposium Held in NJ

A group shot from the first annual May-Day Surf Lifesaving Resuscitation Symposium in Sea Bright, New Jersey.
All photos provided by Mike Hudson.

What do you get when you mix one EMS physician, one salty Jersey Shore lifeguard-paramedic, two nurses, along with several street level MICP’s and a diverse mix of lifeguard-EMTs and LEO EMTs combined with a quick infusion of 25 Junior lifeguards tasked with digging several eight-foot deep holes on a beautiful Saturday in spring? Answer: the dedicated instructor cadre from the inaugural May-Day Surf Lifesaving Resuscitation Symposium in Sea Bright, New Jersey.

As our nation’s summer looms on the horizon, lifeguards and water rescue teams are preparing for the upcoming season and nowhere was that more apparent than along the north shore of New Jersey on May 1st 2021. The borough of Sea Bright and its ocean rescue lifeguard service hosted the first of its kind lifeguard resuscitation education conference in a place where the tradecraft of ocean lifesaving dates back to the late 1800s under the U.S. Lifesaving service and the ‘surfman’ tradition of duty first.

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Personnel from several Monmouth County and Ocean County lifeguard services, along with public safety officers from water rescue teams, hailing from local fire departments and federal law enforcement special teams, attended this skills-intensive course. The May Day symposium was developed just for water rescue professionals with a goal to train this often overlooked subsect of rescue personal in the art of rapid life threat identification an aggressive intervention in different relevant situations, accomplished by using scenario-based training techniques.

The morning sessions started off with several skills teaching stations reviewing BLS resus team dynamics aimed at reinforcing basic skill competency while introducing the “pit crew CPR” format. In addition, attendees would learn aggressive bleeding control procedures taught by mobile intensive care paramedics. There was a physician led alternative airway management and oxygenation station incorporating the use of CPAP to manage drowning associated ARDS and pulmonary edema. Throughout the symposium, attendees participated in several drowning resuscitation scenarios designed to place the students under pressure in order to stimulate real psychological stress (for them) similar to the same stress encountered during a real-life resuscitation case. In addition, lifeguard EMTs were taught how to manage common safety threats associated with drug OD’s including the use of Narcan for opiate related respiratory arrest.

After a traditional beach lunch comprised of greasy pizza and soft drinks, attendees began their afternoon mega-code stations with several sand hole collapse scenarios meant to teach the particulars of rescue and trauma arrest resuscitation procedures associated with prolonged full-body entrapment. Finally, attendees would complete several high-performance drowning resuscitation team scenarios at water’s edge all meant to re-enforce their attention on the hypoxic origin of a drowning arrest and the uber importance of resuscitating a victim in-place, without interruption, during the first 10 minutes following a life threat submersion event.

Attendees left in the late afternoon, sunburnt and sore from eight hours of scenarios, each one smiling and ready for more. This is the first conference of its kind to be hyper focused on training water rescue personnel beyond the typical CPR class and instead focus the attention for one day on those high-risk low probability water rescue calls that demand rescuers become expert at resuscitation once a drowning victim is on dry sand. The original instructor cadre is already planning for May-Day 2022 and rest assured, it will be bigger, better, and more realistic than the first. The one thing that will hold true from year-to-year is that May-Day will always be about open water lifeguards coming together for one day every spring to train for the sake of their profession and for the sake of those critical drowning victims who find themselves on the business-end of rescue flotation device.

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