Pete DeQuincy

As a trainer, I find it startling to watch a team of lifeguards quickly rescue a victim, extricate them from water to land, properly position them in order to provide care, and then every lifeguard stops … to put on gloves.

The victim is in a supine position, ready to receive care. However none is given, because everyone is trying to put on gloves. The victim’s airway could be opened, but it’s not — because everyone is trying to put on gloves.

In an ideal situation, the lifeguard has the capacity to put on gloves that are dry, wet, crumpled into a small ball, or located in the farthest corners of their hip pack — all with ease and speed. If responding to the scene dry, the lifeguard should be able to glove up while moving and while receiving a verbal report of what happened, never breaking eye contact with the reporting party. If coming from the water, the lifeguard utilizes the water, filling the gloves with water and putting them on with efficiency.

For both the dry and wet scenarios mentioned above, the time duration to apply gloves should be no more than 12 seconds.

To hit the 12-second mark, begin training your lifeguards from a standing position with gloves in hand. Give them 15 seconds to complete the task. Once they’ve succeeded, reduce the time, one second at a time, until the end goal of 12 seconds is met.

With your lifeguard team comfortable at gloving up from a standing position, start challenging them with movement, applying them while moving from point A to point B and/or pulling the gloves from their hip pack before putting them on.

Most likely, your lifeguard team will need a little more time — about 2 seconds — however, repeat the drills until they can get it back down to 12 seconds.

EYE-CONTACT DRILL: Rescuers will face each other with gloves in hand.

Objective: Rescuers will put on gloves without breaking eye contact with the other rescuer. The first rescuer with gloves on wins.

Timing Goal: 12-15 seconds to complete the objective. Once proficient, incorporate these variations, quickly and safely:

• Gloves will be pulled from a hip pack that is on the front of the rescuer.

• Gloves will be pulled from a hip pack that is on the back of the rescuer.

• Rescuers will start 20 feet away from each other and walk towards each other keeping eye contact.

• Rescuers will be seated at a table with a pocket mask on the table. Rescuers will keep eye contact while putting on gloves. First to get their gloves on will grab the pocket mask.

HELPING EACH OTHER DRILL: Rescuers will face each other with gloves in hand.

Objective: Rescuers will assist each other in putting on gloves. No rescuer will apply their own gloves independently. Drill ends when all the rescuers have gloves on.

Timing Goal: 12-15 seconds to complete the objective. Once proficient, incorporate these variations, quickly and safely:

Snake configuration (10± rescuers): Rescuers form a circle, with one identified as the Starting Point rescuer. The first rescuer on the right of the Starting Point rescuer will help the Starting Point rescuer get their gloves on. Once the Starting Point rescuer has their gloves on, the rescuer second to the right will assist the first rescuer on the right of the Starting Point rescuer. The drill ends when all the rescuers have their gloves on.

Relay configuration (10+ rescuers): Five-person teams will face off. Teams will be lined up from One to Five. Rescuer Two will help get Rescuer One’s gloves on. Once Rescuer One’s gloves are on, Rescuer Three will help Rescuer Two’s gloves on. Once the task comes to Rescuer Five, Rescuer One will help. The drill ends when all the rescuers on one team have their gloves on.

Two-on-one glove assistance variation: Two rescuers must assist every rescuer in getting gloves. The drill ends when all the rescuers have their gloves on.

DOUBLE GLOVE DRILL: This drill prepares a rescuer for those times when they discover a tear in a glove they are wearing. When this happens, the rescuer should immediately apply another glove over the torn/ripped one rather than removing the damaged one first. Rescuers start from a standing position with gloves in hand.

Objective: Rescuers glove up. Once the gloves are on, rescuers put a second glove over either one to simulate that one was torn. With the second glove on, rescuers continue to provide care without letting a torn glove get in the way.

Timing Goal: 12-18 seconds to complete the objective. Once proficient, incorporate these variations, quickly and safely:

• Double glove while moving from point A to point B.

Tag variation: The trainer has a red Sharpie pen. As rescuers begin the gloving-up drill, the trainer will go around and randomly mark a rescuer’s glove. A red mark on the glove will signify a tear, and the rescuer will either remove the glove and don a second glove or put on a second glove over the first glove. The drill ends if any rescuer with a marked glove can get a second glove on within 10 seconds.

As a reminder, putting on gloves is a small component of sizing up a scene. Let’s get our staff so proficient at it, that it doesn’t deter from providing quick patient care.

Good luck and keep training!