Lauren Gordon and Samantha Engen
Just who keeps an eye out for your kids while they’re thrashing about Sycamore Pool in the One-Mile Recreation Area of Bidwell Park? Two of them are lifeguards Lauren Gordon and Samantha Engen.
What makes somebody become a lifeguard?
Lauren: I heard it paid pretty well. I just figured, you’re outside every day, it’s better than being in an office. I don’t know. I’m a good Samaritan. This is my first year lifeguarding at Bidwell, but I’ve lifeguarded three years before, back when I lived in San Jose. I go to Chico State. My friend Jackie [lifeguarded] here last summer, so she asked me if I wanted to.
Samantha: This is my second summer here, but I’ve been lifeguarding for six years. I’m from Chico. I like it [lifeguarding].
Ever had to save anybody?
Samantha: Last summer I saved one person here. But this summer I haven’t. There have been other rescues, but not [performed by] myself. They were just active drowners—which is where they aren’t under the water, they’re just flailing their arms about.
Lauren: I haven’t had to here, but back where [I’m from] I’ve had to jump in a couple of times and get kids out. Active drowning victims. Not passive. I didn’t have to do CPR.
What’s the strangest thing that’s happened on this job?
Samantha: The strangest thing? We had a dead guy that was found in Upper Creek. We were called up there to assist. This was last summer. That was probably the strangest thing.
Lauren: A couple of times we’ve had to call the police. We had a masturbator [once]. We just called the police. But that’s pretty much it. It’s usually pretty mellow.
Just then, a group of 10-year-old boys began shoving a few of their fellows into the pool. Samantha and Lauren sprang into action, blasting out warnings on their whistles and admonishing the kids to cut it out. It seemed like a good place to leave things: alert lifeguards on the ball and watching out for your kids’ safety.