Before 1983, when Jeff Ellis started his company, virtually the only lifeguard-training program was the Red Cross course.

He founded Jeff Ellis & Associates, based in Ocoee, Fla., to address the need for more specific training for waterpark guards. “At the time we started, there were no specific lifeguard training programs geared toward waterparks, where the water was moving, as opposed to static water,” Ellis recalls.

Since then, his firm has gone on to become one of the premiere lifeguard and risk- management agencies for waterparks. Today it serves a majority of the nation’s waterparks and some aquatics centers.

Perhaps more notably, many of the lifeguarding standards set forth by Jeff Ellis & Associates have become standards industrywide. According to the company founder, his business can claim a number of firsts. It was the first lifeguard training program to mandate the use of the rescue tube; to introduce accountability by holding lifeguards accountable to standards; to integrate first aid, CPR and lifeguard training into a single curriculum; to introduce the use of oxygen support; and to mandate the use of AEDs at all of its facilities.

He adds that the firm also helped develop the idea of vigilant awareness training.

Today the company includes two divisions: Jeff Ellis & Associates and Jeff Ellis Aquatic Management, formed after 9/11.