Jessica Suderski, 19, of Lisle has wanted to be a lifeguard ever since she first the movie "The Sandlot" as a child. Home on summer break from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she decided to apply for a guard job at the Oak Brook Park District at the recommendation of her friend Michaela Richardson, who has been a guard and swim instructor for the agency since 2015.
Suderski completed the required 21 hours of comprehensive training Fri.-Sun., June 1-3. "I went in thinking it was going to be a lot scarier than it actually was. The testing was nerve wracking," she said. New guards have to master a wide range of essential skills during training including advanced first aid, advanced CPR, active spinal rescues, and deep water unconscious saves.
"The instructor was great and the lessons were clear. At the end, you feel like you are ready," Suderski said.
There was no way she would have known that her skills would be thoroughly evaluated within her first two weeks on the job. On Thu., June 14, the Family Aquatic Center was audited by StarGuard Elite. StarGuard administers the park district's Aquatic Risk Management Program and conducts at least four audit reviews of the Family Aquatic Center each year in order to assess staff on all elements of their training.
Unaware she was being evaluated, Suderski achieved a perfect 5-Star rating. "It's very unusual for a new guard to get a perfect score on her first audit," said Alex Bonarirgo, the park district's aquatic supervisor. "The auditor was very surprised to learn how new she was." According to Bonarirgo, Suderski's scanning pattern was flawless and the auditor noted that she was rescue ready at all times.
Lifeguarding for the Oak Brook Park District is something Suderski says she can see herself doing for a while. "I've already made good friends here, and it doesn't feel like work. Plus, it's different every day and I love to see how exciting it is for kids to experience the water."
Jessica Suderski is currently studying biomedical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and wants to pursue a career in stem cell research and tissue engineering, specifically for the pancreas and endocrine system. She says her ultimate goal is to cure diabetes so she can help people like her 16-year old sister who lives with the disease.