When it comes to making a rescue, it needs to be quick, efficient and safe.
It’s all about the rescuer stopping the drowning process — stopping a swimmer from becoming an active victim and stopping an active victim from becoming a passive, unconscious victim. Speed and efficiency come with practice.
SPEED RESCUE DRILL: The victim should be set up just beyond the backstroke flags, pushing a lifeguard to swim several strokes before contacting the victim. The victim is an active victim on the surface. Rescuers should start from the side of the pool in the water.
Objective: Rescue the victim as quickly and safely as possible.
Timing goal: 5-7 seconds to complete the objective.
Go through the drill at least five times. Once rescuers have demonstrated speed and efficiency, move to the variations:• The victim is slightly submerged but still active, face underwater and arms moving (no time change);
• The lifeguards will start from a different point in the pool (time may vary);
• The lifeguards will start from the deck (4-6 seconds);
• Victim is a passive victim, face down on the surface. The lifeguard needs to bring the victim’s airway above the surface (6-8 seconds);
• The victim is a submerged, and the lifeguard needs to bring the victim’s airway above the surface (6-8 seconds).
MULTI-LIFEGUARD 2-ON-1 DRILL: The victim is in the middle of the pool. Split the lifeguards between two points of entry.
Objective: Both lifeguards will leave simultaneously and contact the victim as quickly and safely as possible.
Timing goal: 5-8 seconds to complete the objective.
Go through the drill at least five times. Once the lifeguards have demonstrated speed and efficiency, progress to the variations:• Move the victim to a different location point (time change will vary);
• Stagger the lifeguards’ deployment to the victim. (no time change);
• Staggered lifeguard deployment, and the victim remains active until the second lifeguard arrives and assists in securing the victim (add 5 seconds);
• The passive victim on the surface face down. The drill ends when the victim is secured, face up on a rescue tube, simultaneous or staggered deployment (no time change);
• Passive victim on surface facedown. Drill ends with the victim secured, face up on a rescue tube, with lifeguards ventilating the victim (add 10 seconds);
• Passive victim is submerged. The drill ends with the victim secured, face up on a rescue tube, with lifeguards ventilating the victim (add 10 seconds).
MULTIPLE ROUTE DRILL: Victim is actively drowning within a specific point in the pool. Three lifeguards will position at a deployment point.
Objective: Lifeguards will use different routes to get to the victim. The drill ends when all three lifeguards make contact with the victim.
Timing goal: 5-10 seconds to make contact.
This drill tests the boundaries of the lifeguard zone of coverage and helps determine whether the most direct route to the victim is the quickest. The lifeguards should feel comfortable experimenting and discovering the quickest route, which could consist of a combination of travel both on the land and in the water. Move the victim throughout the entire zone of coverage to see if the outcome changes as to which lifeguard gets to the victim first. Once the lifeguards have become proficient, move to the variations:• Stagger the deployment lifeguards by 3-5 seconds each (time will vary);
• The victim is actively submerged, just below the surface (no time change);
• There are two victims, and three lifeguards are deployed (no time change);
• Move the victim to a location where multiple obstacles will impede the lifeguards (time will vary).
MULTIPLE VICTIMS, MULTIPLE LIFEGUARDS DRILL
Multiple active victims present unique challenges to lifeguards. Factors that should be considered for all rescues include water depth, size of the victims, and the victims’ activity level. The lifeguards’ approach to the victims and rescue technique will depend on how the victims present themselves (both holding each other, one on the other’s back, or both separate but drowning).
Personal safety is paramount when dealing with multiple victims. If available, additional rescue equipment and rescuers should be utilized. Before training on multiple victim rescues, review proper escape techniques. Also, it is imperative that a safety word and a safety tap or pinch be established in case of equipment entanglement or the lifeguards’ inability to escape from the victims.
Multiple victim rescue training should start in shallow water (3-5 feet), with victims displaying appropriate behavior for this environment. The training should transition to mid-depth (5-9 feet), then to deep water (9-plus feet).
Drill: Two victims are holding and facing each other in shallow water. Two lifeguards will be deployed.
Objective: Secure the victims as quickly and safely as possible.
Timing goal: 8-12 seconds to complete the objective. Once the lifeguards become proficient, move to the variations:• A victim is piggybacking the other victim (no time change);
• Victims are seesawing in the water (one up and one down) back and forth (no time change);
• Both victims are active, submerged just under the surface or at least 3 feet under (add up to 10 seconds).
MISTAKES TO LOOK FOR
As the trainer, your critical eye is needed so lifeguards don’t make mistakes that could cause delays in care or compromise care for the victim or hinder their own safety.
Here are some errors that you might see:
• The lifeguard doesn’t manage the excess rope on the rescue tube when entering the water;• The lifeguard is not proficient in disentangling themselves from their equipment during a rescue;
• The lifeguard allows themselves to be grabbed by the victim;
• The lifeguard is not proficient at escapes.
As the trainer, to make the 30-minute in-service compact and effective, plan on using the best setting at your facility to run this in-service, establish clear objectives, and transition quickly between drills. Safety should be the priority for your lifeguards and victims.
Good luck and keep training.