Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Implications for Seasonal Lifeguards

By Grosse, Susan J. | Parks & Recreation, February 2001 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Implications for Seasonal Lifeguards


Grosse, Susan J., Parks & Recreation


It was a pleasant summer day. The outdoor pool, a fairly large facility with 6-8 guard stations, was open. In the middle of open swim, a situation develops which causes lifeguards to jump from their stations into the water, submerge themselves on the bottom of the pool, stay on the bottom as long as possible, come up and check the situation, and then return to the bottom of the pool. What the lifeguards were responding to were gun shots. The standard procedure for gunshots heard is for lifeguards to jump, enter the water, submerge and stay there until they know the situation on the top of the water is safe -- theory being, a dead lifeguard is of no use to anyone. The safest place to be when you are out in the open in a swimming pool during gun[ire is on the bottom, not up on top or on deck. So, indeed, a young lifeguard submerged, stayed there, and came up when the shots had finished. The actual shooting occurred in a locker room area. Lifeguards had to clear the pool, deal with the shooter until police arrived, and do an evaluation after the event.

This is only one of many different life threatening situations lifeguards face. Probably the most familiar life threatening situations are patron generated -- water related incidents that are drownings or near drownings, as well as non-water related incidents such as a heart attach on deck or in the locker room. But lifeguards face other life threatening situations. A second type of life threatening situation is the non-water related life threatening situation; gun shots, assaults, and stabbings. A third category of life threatening situations which can happen to lifeguards are natural disasters, like tornadoes, which happen when the facility is open.

All of these life threatening situations have several common factors--

* They threaten the very life existence of someone

* They involve the presence of the lifeguard (or could)

* They are all psychologically distressing

* They are outside the range of usual human experiences (including bereavement, chronic illness, business loss, and marital conflict -- normal trauma in life)

* They all have the potential to result in post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for the persons involved.

PTSD Defined

Post traumatic stress disorder is development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one's physical integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death, injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member of other close associate. (APA, 1996).

PTSD gets it's definition from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association -- more commonly known at DSM -- at this point in time, DSM IV.

Diagnosis in an individual is by characteristic symptoms which include --

* exposure to a traumatic event that is life or serious-injury threatening, during which the individual experiences a response of helplessness, extreme fear and/or horror

* re-experiencing a traumatic event through dreams, intrusive thoughts, reliving the experience, psychological distress upon exposure to event cues, and/or psychological distress upon exposure to symbols of the event

* persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, or a numbing of general responsiveness that was not present before the trauma

* persistent feelings of increased arousal not present before the trauma, including sleep disturbances, irritability, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, and exaggerated startle response

* intensified symptoms when exposed to situations or activities that resemble or symbolize the original trauma

* a full symptom picture present for more than one month

* a disturbance causing clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

PTSD can be--

* Acute -- duration of symptoms of less than 3 months

* Chronic -- when symptoms last 3 months or longer

* Delayed Onset -- at least 6 months have passed between the traumatic event and the onset of symptoms

Focus here is on PTSD, it's causes and occurrence specifically related to the job of the lifeguard and, more particularly, the job of seasonal lifeguard.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Implications for Seasonal Lifeguards
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?