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Quick thinking lifeguard helps swimmers avoid lightning at AquaZone Warrnambool

Quick thinking lifeguard helps swimmers avoid lightning at AquaZone Warrnambool
November 27, 2015

The vigilance of a lifeguard has helped swimmers using the outdoor pool at AquaZone Warrnambool avoid a lightning bolt during a thunderstorm.

As reported by the Warrnambool Standard, AquaZone lifeguard Tom Wilson evacuated the outdoor pool during a storm last Friday (20th November) just before a lightning bolt hit.

With a storm approaching, Wilson observed lightning strikes moving closer to the facility by counting the time between the flash and thunder clap.

After warning about 20 swimmers that the storm could force them to head indoors, the lightning came close enough for an evacuation.

22-year-old Wilson told the Warrnambool Standard “there’s a protocol there – if you hear it within 30 seconds of seeing the flash, that’s something you need to stick to “After the first 15 minutes we heard a big clap about 40 seconds away so we continued on, but a couple of minutes later there was a bigger one within 14 seconds.

“That was when I made the call to get everyone out of the water.”

Wilson said there was some commotion as the patrons, most of them Warrnambool Swimming Club members, hastily evacuated the pool.

He added “once they were inside I was cleaning up a bit outside and as I opened the door to come in, a huge crack of lightning went pretty much directly on top of the pool.

“It was the loudest thing I’ve ever heard. Even people with their heads submerged could hear it.

“It scared the absolute bejesus out of me.”

The strike caused a huge surge through the building and knocked out internet connections, telephone lines and the water control systems.

Wilson was thanked by swimmers for making the right call.

He concluded “I was making sure I was 110% on the job at the time. I made sure I was standing in a position to watch the lightning at all times.”

AquaZone Services Manager Ray Smith praised Wilson’s diligence and forward thinking stating “he was switched on and had people warned what may happen and got everyone inside quickly.”

Wilson added that with the summer opening of outdoor pools across Australia operators should be reminded to make sure their emergency incident protocols are in place.

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