Just when you think things are going great, something happens to bring it all down. I was the aquatics manager at a military aquatics facility. Summer had just wrapped up and the lifeguarding staff had produced a wonderful two-night
Haunted Swamp event that had done even better than the previous year.
The Monday morning following the success of the Haunted Swamp, a
letter received by the chief staff officer (CSO) of the Navy base
was forwarded to my email in-box, claiming that the lifeguards pay
no attention to pool patrons in or out of the water. Furthermore,
the concerned party hoped the guards were equipped with the right
certifications and skills necessary for such a job.
Normally, I might have been able to brush off such an email, but
the most important person on the base had received it, too. I knew
that what would follow this event was uncertain, but it surely
would involve a lot of hard work. And then some!
As predicted, the following week, I was asked to show everything
my staff and I do, in a presentation to the CSO, supervisors and
directors. Trainings, standard operating procedures, scheduling,
certifications — everything was to be presented to prove that
the lifeguards were capable of their jobs.
A binder and PowerPoint were going to be necessary for all the
information that needed to be put forth. First, the standard
operating procedures, then Bupers Instruction 1710.11C — the
instruction book for all Navy bases with the guidelines for each
program — Chapter 15 for aquatics was copied and
Next, the staff information packet and worksheets that all
employees must read, fill out and sign before they may begin
working were added. Codes of conduct for lifeguards, WSI and Jr.
Guard Instructors, Red Cross requirements to become a lifeguard and WSI,
schedules for staff trainings, Red Cross outlines for training and
examples of my personal training outlines were included to show
just how prepared the lifeguards actually were.
Lastly, I used a current employee’s file to show that all
paperwork was in order, all certifications up to date, and code of
conduct and worksheets were signed and completed.
Once all preparation was complete, the presentation was under
way. That’s when I really started to sweat! I felt like all
the preparation I’d done still failed to fully represent the
amount of work that goes into maintaining a well-trained, fully
capable staff of lifeguards. Would it be enough?
It was not until after the presentation that I was able to breathe
a big sigh of relief. Thanks to a clear demonstration of rigorous
training, all questions about the lifeguards’ preparedness
vanished. With the support of the CSO, and all others behind him,
my guards and I went back to work with an extra boost of
confidence, knowing we know had the support of our top brass.