A coalition of aquatics and government organizations and agencies took its first steps toward developing universal lifeguard standards and practices.

The United States Lifeguard Standards Coalition consists of the American Red Cross, the United States Lifesaving Association and the YMCA of the USA. Members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Association of Emergency Room Doctors, American Heart Association and others were invited to participate in the discussion. The meeting was held at the New York School of Public Health in Valhalla, N.Y.

The Coalition?s purpose is to develop and promote standards for lifeguarding and water rescue through evidence-based research. The meeting was divided into three focus groups, and attendees joined one group based on interest and expertise. The three groups were medical aspects and resuscitation, rescue techniques, and surveillance issues.

?We were able to review the process, decide on the first evidence reviews to conduct and start to identify the key terms we will need to define,? said Dr. David Markenson, M.D., coalition chair.

Each group assigned two members to independently conduct research on existing evidence and report back at the next meeting, currently scheduled for June. Dr. Markenson said the process will take about two years, and that the published information will likely become an industry and regulator standard.