Guard duty

Lauren Gordon and Samantha Engen

Lauren (seated) and Samantha blow the whistle on some poolside troublemakers.

Lauren (seated) and Samantha blow the whistle on some poolside troublemakers.

Photo By Tom Angel

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.