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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 incorporated.

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.