Snohomish County turning to kids for help after 7 reported drownings


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A water safety camp is teaching kids rescue techniques and “situational awareness.”

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. — Summer camp is taking on a different meaning in Snohomish County, with drownings becoming an all too common occurrence.

The situation has kids like 10-year-old Henry Messer worried.

“I can become very nervous and stuff with people on the water,” he said. “That is something that does hit me.”

A water safety camp put on by Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue isn’t just teaching kids the basics about wearing a life jacket. It’s teaching basic rescue techniques, as well as “situational awareness.”

“We do a lot about how you hang out by the water, what do you look out for, what do you do if there is trouble, how do you help yourself if you need it,” said Lt. Jamal Beckham.

They are skills that Henry Messer and his sister Holly are eager to learn.

“I wanna save people and I wanna make sure people don’t get hurt,” said Henry.

“It’s a very unfortunate situation for kids,” added 12-year-old Holly. “I want to help people, so if anybody’s ever drowning I can go and save them.”

There have already been at least seven drownings in Snohomish County this year. Two of them happened on Lake Stevens, where the water safety camp is taking place. 

Rescue crews believe having children trained with this sort of awareness will help save lives.

“Having eyes on the water is super important,” said Beckham. “The quicker the emergency is recognized, the quicker the rescue can happen.”

Instructors are quick to tell kids not to jump in the water to save someone, but to know how to quickly call 911 and alert an adult.

“Contrary to common belief, it’s not some big, loud event when somebody drowns,” Beckham said. “Quite often it’s silent and quiet.”

With a lifeguard shortage this summer, kids like Henry and Holly could very well be the first line of defense if something goes wrong. It’s a responsibility they’re more than willing to take on.

“It’s important because if I see someone in trouble and nobody else is around I can help them,” said Holly.

“I’m glad I’m doing it and I’m glad all these other kids are here doing this, too,” added Henry. “If something were to happen they can all tell people what to do.”

WATCH: Residents asking for lifeguard at Davies Beach after child drowns in Lake Stevens