The American Red Cross will launch its updated lifeguard training program next month amid lingering customer tension and defection caused by an abrupt pricing policy change in July.
The Red Cross is hoping that new, streamlined program, which
officials say will reduce some costs, will ease some of those
Some of the biggest changes are in how the content was developed
and how proficiency is measured, said Stephanie Shook, aquatics
channel manager for the American Red Cross, who helped develop the
Most notably, the new program places greater emphasis on physical
capability, said Stephanie Shook, aquatics channel manager at the
American Red Cross, who helped develop the updated program. A new
prerequisite requires prospective guards to demonstrate the ability
to tread water (using legs only) for two minutes, and a new timed
scenario must be completed in the final session.
Also new is an expanded section on surveillance, including an
enhanced description of what happens during a drowning, and several
additions to water rescue training. This includes new sections on
guarding during special activities and how to give swim tests, and
a section on how to proceed with a rescue when things don’t
go according to protocol. First aid and CPR/AED certifications are
included, with greater emphasis on strategically incorporating AEDs
in a rescue event.
Program changes are based on the findings of the Lifeguard
Standards Coalition, a collaboration of the Red Cross, YMCA, United
States Lifesaving Association and members of the International Life
Saving Federation, formed in 2006 “to research, identify and
promote evidence-based standards for lifeguarding and water
Historically, the Red Cross has updated its program every five
years or so, but “this is the first time that this kind of
research has been available formally to look to during the
revisions,” Shook said.
Having research and data to support program and policy decisions is
important because in the past, many industry standards accepted as
given have been based solely on historical reliance rather than
objective research, said B. Chris Brewster, president of the United
States Lifesaving Association and part of the Lifeguard Standards
“I think the more of this sort of objective scrutiny that
goes on outside of the existing lifeguard training organizations
— bringing in people who have no skin in the game but simply
want to help get the best answers — the greater we can all
rely on the quality of the programs,” he added.
The updated Red Cross program will be available in traditional
classroom format, as well as in a blended learning design,
incorporating online study and classroom training. Books and
materials will be available for download at no additional cost, and
there are video segments and digital “refresher”
“We really worked hard to increase interactivity, and we are
being mindful of delivery methods,” Shook said. The goal is
to maximize use of online capabilities and meet the needs of
various learning styles.
The program will be offered at provider cost of $35 per student. It
is the first newly updated program to fall under the new fee
schedule announced abruptly last summer, which has caused concerns
among providers, some of whom are facing significant increases in
pricing. According to Red Cross officials, the new fees and other
changes are all part of ongoing efforts to streamline offerings,
create uniformity and better reach underserved communities.
More information on the updated program is available in an online
preview kit, and a training support center now is open at
800.733.2767, or firstname.lastname@example.org.