13 December 2015
Mr Joe Cheng, Sport Singapore

In the business of lifesaving, you are never off duty. And Mr Joe Cheng can attest to that.

One day, when I was serving my national service, the officers called for my company to line up in a row. He picked five of us, and asked us to pack our bags and be ready to leave camp immediately. None of us knew what was happening, but eventually we found out that we had been chosen to undergo lifeguard training. That was how I became a lifeguard, and I continued being one after I left National Service.

My most memorable experience was when a regular customer to the swimming pool simply stopped swimming in the middle of a lap. The customer was in her 60s and had a history of epileptic fits. Her daughter regularly brought her to the pool for her exercise, and she didn’t have any problems until that day. 

I rushed into the pool and quickly pulled her out of the water. We performed CPR on her and she regained consciousness. As a matter of protocol, we called the ambulance even though the daughter did not think it was necessary. In the hospital, we found that the customer had water in her lungs. If we had not sent her to the hospital, she would have died from "dry-drowning" from the water she had inhaled. Both mother and daughter were very grateful. Until I stopped working at the swimming pool, they would regularly come by and buy coffee and snacks for me. I appreciated the gesture, even though I was simply doing my duty.

As a master lifeguard at the Lifeguard Academy, I train people without any lifeguarding experience to become professional lifeguards. It’s not easy to be certified as a Pool Lifeguard as there are stringent requirements for fitness and swimming skills. To make sure the lifeguards I train are able to meet these requirements, I will swim with them, correct their swimming strokes and prepare programmes for them to train in their free time. 

Mr Joe Cheng
Master Lifeguard
Lifeguard Academy, Sport Singapore

This story was first posted on the PSD Facebook page on 14 December 2015.

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