#4 What Lifeguards do & don’t do in a Challenge Course

Well, I passed all 6 of those kids in my Lifeguard Training class. But then, in my next class, I didn’t have enough kids sign up/pass the pre-test. So I had to cancel that class. Now I have about a months rest time before my next class.
One thing I wanted to make clear to any person that may be reading this (actually, a couple things) about lifeguard training:
1. Lifeguards are not trained on things such as Emergency Action Plans (EAP), equipment location, and emergency procedures related to the facility in which they wish to work. They are taught what an EAP is, the general procedure that one will normally follow, and that major steps that are involved. They are not taught some universal EAP! The facility supervisor is responsible for training them on that specific facility’s EAP, other safety procedures, and even every rule at the facility.
2. Lifeguards are not taught every single little rule. Why? Because it would be impossible for an instructor to say "these are the rules." They may miss some, or add ones that do not apply to a facility. It is the facility supervisors job to make sure that their employees understand the type of conduct that they want out of the patrons at a facility (as well as the type of conduct expected from employees). A lifeguard cannot begin working at a facility and do a good job if they don’t know all the rules. Rules are not implied! If people don’t see it written somewhere, then they will think there is no rule.
3. Passing state health inspections does not mean that you have a safe facility. It means that your facility has met the requirements for "healthy" that the state has issued. The state health inspector cannot tell you that your lifeguard needs to have the rescue tube sitting across his thighs with the loop around one of his shoulders and the excess line in one hand because the health inspector doesn’t know that’s what should be done. If management doesn’t know this either, then the lifeguard will never position the rescue tube correctly and may end up fowling-up a rescue because the tube was under his feet and he didn’t even take it with him. An innocent person could get seriously injured or even die.
4. Lifeguards are taught that they should receive annual training especially if they are seasonal employees. CPR recertification is not training. When you take a CPR challenge you are showing the instructor that you know your stuff – CPR stuff that is. You are proving you can competently perform Adult, Child, and Infant Rescue Breathing, Adult, Child, and Infant CPR, two person CPR, use a Bag-Valve Mask Resuscitator with another person and help a Conscious and Unconscious Choking Victim. That is it. You don’t go over anything else. You don’t go over EAP’s, or safety procedures, or in-water rescues. You don’t even go over First Aid. Just Rescue Breathing and CPR. Facility Supervisors are responsible for making sure they hold yearly inservice training especially if the facility is a seasonal facility (only open for about 3-4 months during summer time).
5. Lifeguards are not taught anything special when they get their Lifeguarding certificates renewed, either. A Lifeguard Challenge is the same type of deal as a CPR Challenge. You are being tested to see if you still have what it takes to competently perform in-water rescues. You also get tested on basic First Aid (bandage a cut, sling a broken arm). The instructor does not teach you, you prove that you know it all already. Still, EAP’s are not gone over, patron surveillance is not gone over, they don’t go over inservice training, or rules, or personal conduct, or filling out forms. It is the facility supervisors responsibility to make sure that their employees know how to do their job at their facility. All the facility specifics can only be taught by facility personnel.
6. Supervisors don’t have to be left in the dark. There is a course called "Lifeguard Management." The purpose of the course is to give facility personnel who manage lifeguards the tools and knowledge they need to be able to manage their lifeguards successfully. They are given resources for inservice training, as well as knowledge of how the lifeguards are taught to work as the Lifeguard Team. They also get taught how lifeguards are trained to do their jobs (how to hold the rescue tube, when they need help from another guard, etc.). If management really wanted to understand lifeguards training so they could keep a safe environment even thought they are not a lifeguard themselves, it would really benefit them to take this class.

It may sound like I’m rambling, but I do not like it when people tell me how I do what I do (such as what I teach lifeguards) when I know they are wrong and don’t know what they are talking about because I am the one with the training, not them. Little league kids don’t get to tell professional baseball players how to play baseball, because (as smart a kid they may be) they don’t have the level of experience in that particular field. I am a Lifeguard Instructor. Don’t tell me what I do and don’t teach lifeguards, because I already know.
-end of line

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