In-Service Training: Testing Your Lifeguard Positions

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: Testing Your Lifeguard Positions

After you have determined the optimal lifeguard positions at your pool, it is important to test your lifeguards to make sure that they are able to identify anything in their area of responsibility. We recommend that you do this by completing a DROP drill during operating hours. This will help to replicate all of the factors that your lifeguards may experience while on deck. For each area of responsibility, determine the challenging areas and place the silhouette in that location.

Below is a common scenario where we see improper lifeguard positioning contribute to the delay in identifying a victim.

It is summer time, and your organization’s day camp is in full swing. Every afternoon, the counselors bring the campers to the pool for swim time. All non-swimmer campers are required to stay in the shallow-end and wear life jackets. After some time has passed, one of the campers decides to exit the pool in order to go to a different area. As they are exiting the pool using the stairs in the corner, they experience a seizure and eventually become unconscious and fall face first in the water. The area where the camper is located is a challenge area for your pool. 

  • Time how long it takes the guard to identify the camper in the challenge area and respond.
  • Once a response is initiated, rehearse a complete rescue scenario.
  • Debrief the experience with the guard. Some sample questions to ask are:
    • What first alerted you to the event?
    • Why were you positioned where you were?
    • What went through your head when you first recognized the event?
    • What challenges did you experience in identifying the victim?
    • Could a change in your positioning helped to eliminate those challenges?