Yesterday, there was a drowning here in LA at a hotel pool with no lifeguard. A Good Samaritan pulled a mother and two children from the pool. All three are still in "grave condition" after the man who pulled them out administered CPR until emergency personnel arrived.
At a community pool or facility, there's always another guard to help. But what happens where there's not? What happens when there are multiple drowning victims and everyone needs CPR? How do you determine what order the victims will receive CPR?
As an EMT, in a mass casualty incident, we are told to make the most effort to save those who have a better chance of survival. Now how to determine that can be challenging. As a Lifeguard Instructor, when this questions arises during a training, I tell the lifeguard candidates to make a judgement call. There is not really a right or wrong victim to save first. If a child is involved, I personally would make more effort to save the child. However, again, someone else may just do CPR on which ever victim was underwater the least. However, if there is an event where there are multiple victims and multiple rescuers/bystanders, a lifeguard (or someone who is trained in CPR) can instruct bystanders to do hands-only CPR, since compressions are better than nothing. It may not be the answer that some want to hear, but unfortunately, one lifeguard cannot save the world by himself/herself. Make a judgement call, don't doubt yourself, call 911 and get assistance there ASAP.