The young man's limp body is dead weight. His teammates in the pool struggle to hoist him up as two lifeguards reach down to drag him onto the pool deck. Late for my morning water aerobics class, I hesitate, unsure if I should stop.
The guards seem to be handling everything just fine. But maybe I should at least offer to lend a hand?
"Need any help? I'm a nurse."
"We've called 9-1-1," replies one of the young guards.
“Does he have a pulse?” I ask.
Relieved that they have everything under control, I turn away to join my class, which is warming up at the other side of the pool. Suddenly I hear the swimmer’s breathing change to jagged retching. I pause and turn around.
"He sounds like he's going to vomit." I say. "If you're sure there's no chance he hurt his neck diving, turn him onto his side so that he doesn't choke."
The swim coach assures us that boy hasn't been diving, just swimming laps when he suddenly lost consciousness.
"Do you know if he has a seizure history?"
The young man looks like someone who's unresponsive following a seizure. If that's the case, all we need to do is keep his airway open until the paramedics arrive. In the ER where I work, this would be just another routine day. But I'm not in the ER with the support of my fellow nurses, doctors and the equipment I rely on - monitors, oxygen, and suction.