In-Service Training: Practicing Your Emergency Action Plan

As you plan your in-service trainings, we encourage you to incorporate skill-based training into each session. Creating trainings that are realistic and conducted in real-time helps prepare lifeguards to know what to expect—and how they might feel—if an aquatic event were to happen. That’s why, throughout the Not On My Watch series, we’ll incorporate an inservice topic of the week with an example of a scenario you can use to train your staff.

Topic: Practicing Your Emergency Action Plan

Practicing your emergency action plan from start to finish will help your lifeguards and other staff know what to expect and what their roles and responsibilities are before an actual emergency occurs. This is extremely important as every second counts when responding and providing care to a drowning victim. When practicing your emergency action plan, below are a few things to consider:

  • Involve everyone in the drill that will have a role to play
  • Create clear expectations for everyone so that they know what they are responsible for
  • Practice clearing the pool
  • If camp or other youth-programming is occurring, have a plan in place of where the kids will go once the pool has been cleared and who will be responsible for supervision
  • Practice collecting emergency equipment (like an AED or oxygen), calling 911 and flagging down EMS once they arrive

Below we have created a scenario that you can use with your staff. Please feel free to print this off and use during your in-service training.

A group of about 50 campers are attending camp one week. Part of the afternoon programming includes open swim time in your organization’s pool. All campers have been swim tested and the non-swimmers are required to stay in the shallow end of the pool. The camp counselors are positioned throughout the shallow end to help supervise all of the non-swimmers. After some time passes, one non-swimmer lifts the float rope separating the shallow end and deep end. They begin to display surface distress before eventually falling below the surface. 

  • Time how long it takes the guard to identify the camper and respond.
  • Once a response is initiated, practice your emergency action plan from start to finish.
  • Debrief areas where the lifeguards and counselors worked well together, and where they could improve.

* You can also use our sample In-Service Training Framework as you plan your trainings for the summer.