The many available first aid, CPR-AED,
oxygen administration, emergency response and specialty venue
lifeguard training courses are obvious examples of advanced
training you can provide.
Different field experiences also can boost guards’ job
knowledge and skills. Participation in these professional
experiences helps develop their leadership capabilities as
Field experiences place them in actual lifeguard and/or
rescue-related venues where, under supervision and the guidance of
trained emergency response personnel, they go through scenarios as
true to life as possible. Having a field experience makes text
learning and peer group practice real.
Lifeguards see training course content in action. Because
lifeguard training, even for certified guards, is ongoing, they
benefit from continual performance feedback, as well as
A field experience can occur at your pool or may involve a visit to
another facility. Field experiences are planned and carried out in
addition to duty or in-service training hours. Because these are
enrichment activities, field experiences usually are held once a
season or every six months.
Lifeguards new to a program and/or facility can particularly
benefit from field experiences at your own facility. This is
particularly true for those being rotated into a new part of your
facility — for example, from a play area for young children
to the wave pool. The opportunity to view working situations and
conditions unique to a venue, station or team can prove invaluable
to lifeguards when they assume their new job roles. Even
experienced guards can benefit from viewing performance from a
different, out of the immediate action, point of reference.
Everyone can gain from expanding knowledge of risk management and
emergency response at an unfamiliar aquatics facility, ambulance
company or hospital emergency department. Particularly valuable is
the after-experience discussion. Asking participants to discuss
their observations and experiences will clarify key aspects. This
discussion also will give you the chance to relate the experience
requirements and commonalities of guards' job
Typical field experiences might include:
Provide lifeguard assistance during an open swim.
Any surveillance should be in addition to surveillance provided by
guards on the job that day. Assistance tasks might include
orientations for new patrons, enforcement of pool rules, equipment
management, duplication of safety checks and water chemistry
analysis, and assistance during rescue efforts.
Focus this assistance by telling participants what to look for,
individuals to model and operations to specifically observe. Focus
points might include safety, task efficiency, public relations,
time on task, professionalism or situational appropriateness. In no
way should a field-experience lifeguard take the place of an
on-the-job guard, but performing some of those same tasks while
still in observation mode is a valuable learning experience.
Travel to an open-water site to perform rescues
learned or practiced only in a pool. Open-water experiences are
essential for practice of small craft, rescue board, spinal injury
and submerged victim rescues (including search). Even if these are
not rescues that might be used at your facility, when it comes time
for your guards to renew their certifications, the knowledge and
skills perfected during this type of field experience can be
important to the recertification process.
Visit a camp setting to evaluate its waterfront
facilities and operations. Also check out small-craft arrangements
and learn more about aquatic jobs in camp settings. Summer means
numerous camp jobs. This opens the potential for sharing lifeguard
staff. Preparing guards for camp waterfront work can be an
important addition to your training program. Guards who can be
employed year 'round are more likely to stay in the
Go to waterparks (indoor and outdoor). Assess the
operations, lifeguard duties and management procedures specific to
Even if you have no waterpark activities at your facility, with the
current growth in popularity of waterpark-type activities, many
standard pools are adding slides and other water-play equipment.
This will necessitate additional training for lifeguards.
Stop by a local ambulance company. Or invite these
professional rescuers to bring a rig to your facility. While
lifeguards are first responders in the chain of aquatic emergency
care, it is important for any first responder to interface well
with other rescue personnel.
In addition, it's important to determine how near-drowning and
specialized rescues, such as deep-water spinal injury rescues and
backboarding, will be handled by your responding ambulance company.
A coordinated approach to victim care will result in improved
eventual outcome for any victim.
Partner with your local ambulance company. Ambulance
“ride-along” experiences for your lifeguards will prove
valuable. Many ambulance firms will allow several hours of
ride-alongs for lifeguards over the age of 18.
Training activities described here are from Grosse, S. (2009).
Lifeguard Training Activities and Games. Champaign, Ill.