Aquatic In-Service Training

All of your staff receives initial training that provides the basic information and skills required for them to perform their jobs. That, however, is just the beginning. In-service, or recurrent training is necessary to retain, improve, and employ their skills and knowledge so that their performance is maximized.

Where action or inaction may be critical to life, such as with your aquatic staff, it is critical that their skills and judgment are immediate and precise. This requires regular practice and review of both normal (i.e., scanning, rule enforcement, conflict recognition/resolution, conditioning, and other responsibilities) and emergency (i.e., CPR, first aid, water rescue, spinal injury management, etc.) skills. Your aquatic in-service training program should address the following points:

  1. An in-service training program should be developed and implemented. You may write your own procedure that is specific to your needs, or you may use a prepared system, such as In-Service Training for Aquatic Professionals, endorsed by the National Safety Counsel and the American Camping Association, straight out-of-the-box or as a starting point for your own program.
  2. Scheduling should be frequent, with maximum recurrence during the summer busy season or after an influx of new staff. Regular and consistent times should be established so that staff can plan accordingly. Aquatics organizations and Redwoods recommend 4 hours of in-service training per month for each lifeguard. Your facility should tailor timing and frequency to best fit their particular program and curriculum. In general, daily or weekly training is best, biweekly is good, and monthly is minimal.
  3. Attendance should be mandatory. Lack of in-service participation should result in suspension from the work rotation. Nonparticipation negatively affects both the safety of your swimming pools and the morale and cohesiveness of your staff.
  4. Real life scenarios with human victims should be utilized. While mannequins are useful for the initial teaching of skills, a reliance on them misleads your staff. They need to become comfortable with performing their skills on an actual human body, lest their unfamiliarity prove disastrous when a real emergency comes. The scenarios should be altered and varied from exercise to exercise and all attendees should be required to actively participate in all aspects of the training.
  5. Periodically, non-aquatic staff should be included in the sessions so that the aquatic staff may experience how non-aquatic staff members may be best utilized in the event of an emergency.
  6. All training should be documented with records kept for at least 3 years. Sample documentation may be found in the “forms” section of our website. Actual staff signatures, not just typed or trainer-written names on the form, should signify attendance.