Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Up Close with Ramon De-Lleguas-Torres

Puerto Rican native Ramon De-Lleguas-Torres, 28, has been swimming since the age of 6, a passion that has helped make him one of the top lifeguards/EMTs for the City of Delray Beach’s Ocean Rescue. Athletic and personable, De-Lleguas-Torres has been teaching competitive swimming, and subsequently lifeguarding, since 2015, the year he moved to the United States, first in Pompano Beach and then in Delray.

“If I’m not in water, it just feels weird,” he says. As he shares in this conversation with Delray, his day job gives him plenty of opportunities to make waves.

ON HOW A LIFEGUARD SEES THE ENVIRONMENT:

“To be a great lifeguard, your awareness has to be on point. You’re sitting at the tower, looking straight at the water, but you have to be aware of what’s happening in the sand, what’s going on to your left, to your right; if something happens in the tower next to you, you have to be paying attention to them. If anything happens behind you, a car crash … it’s happened here that cyclists get hit by cars. So you have to be aware of all of that.”

ON STRONG SWIMMING SKILLS:

“If something happens in front of my tower, I’m going to have to respond, and if you’re not efficient, you could become the second victim, you could say. You don’t have to be a world-class swimmer, but you have to be able to defend yourself.”

ON EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED:

“Running and swimming and the medical training, you can prepare for that. But the situations just come out of the blue. There’s no schedule that says, today at 9, someone’s going to drown. You have to be on your toes for the whole shift, because they say when it’s the most calm is when things usually happen. You just can’t let your guard down in this sort of environment.

“… When you think you can relax, someone can get a little cut. They can get stung by a jellyfish, and it turns into anaphylaxis. If we have waves, you could be watching people surf the whole day, and when you’re about to close the tower, someone falls and gets hit by the board.

“Prevention is the main thing. If you can stop something before it happens or right as it’s happening, it’s better. You’re looking for different things—people could be running. Let’s say they’re working out, and it’s a hot day, and all of a sudden they just drop. I tell people, running and screaming are the things that get my heart going. Because if you’re running at the beach, and you’re not exercising, that means something’s happening. If you’re yelling at the beach, and you’re not at the shoreline having fun at the waves, something is happening. Your senses adapt to things like that.”

ON A DAY THAT HAS STUCK WITH HIM:

“I went out and the person was … I don’t want to say he passed away, because we can’t really declare anyone dead. But the person was face down, already blue. It started out as a rescue, but it ended up being a recovery. We did chest compression, CPR. We never got a pulse back. That was for five minutes, and Fire Rescue was already there. We transferred care. It was an older person. They had a past history of heart complications. We did the best we could do. It was outside of our guarded area. … I was lucky that I had the ATV, because it would have been a run if I had to do it on foot.

“It stayed with me. It was my first experience handling that. I had gone before a couple times to help people and bring them back to shore, but it was the first time I had to work a person. All that training and education that comes with the CPR and being an EMT, putting all of that into a real-life scenario, that was my first time. So it did have an impact.”

ONLY IN FLORIDA:

“We picked an alligator out of the ocean. I think it was 11 feet. It was after a hurricane happened, and it ended up here.”

ON HIS MOST SATISFYING DAYS AT WORK:

“When nothing happens. You know you did your job. When I first started here, someone told me, a good lifeguard is a dry lifeguard. That means, if you can catch anything before it happens, you’re doing a good job.

“It’s fun when stuff happens, because it breaks the routine of just being there. It’s a good day also. But even if someone is having a heat stroke and you just get an umbrella and some cold packs on them, and they feel better after five minutes, that’s a great day. You did something.”

This article is from the Summer 2023 issue of Delray magazine. For more like this, click here to subscribe to the magazine.

John Thomason
John Thomason
As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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