Student learning outcomes in lifeguard trainingAs a part of determining what my lifeguard graduates took with them to their jobs (student learning outcomes , SLO) and to find out what can be improved in the class, I do regular surveys of graduates and the people who hire them.
Here are some responses of interest:
1. What we might do better in the PE 28A class this coming spring quarter.
Scanning and Whistles are our biggest problems with new guards
More real life scenarios
More of what lifeguarding is really like in real life. Facts and myths.
2. What training would you like your guards (De Anza graduates or not)
to have more practice at?
(besides the above) CPR, common rescues, back boarding
A lot of scenarios with different kinds of injuries.
More skills and backboarding.
How to react to an incident quicker - recognition - without double guessing themselves or freezing. Also more facilty walkthru on what to check for safety.
From my 3-year experience working at NWYMCA, the lead staff looked for the following things in good Lifeguards: Vigilance, Promptness, Professionalism, and being able to perform the following rescues without hesitation: Front and Rear View Active and Inactive Rescues, spinal board precautions, and performing CPR and rescue breaths. NWYMCA in-service training include all of the above, including a 500 swim. The Aquatic staff found that guards tended to forget their CPR numbers or standard emergency procedures when people did not attend trainings. Therefore, the staff implemented the "red Shirt" drill where guards were graded on how well they responded to emergencies (of course these were just demos).
3. skills work needed
Working with different guards to get over the hesitance to touch
someone they don't know.
Different depth active and passive rescues
4. general lecture knowledge
The how and why of drowning, basic pool chemistry, storms & pool
Something that I think can be emphasized more in training is work ethic and customer service. I have worked with a lot of lifeguards who lacked skills in both of these categories. For the most part, basic rescue skills for distressed/drowning victims seem to be great... as I said CPR and backboarding fade quickly... and some basic first aid skills as well. One example that stands out is how often people will give a victim showing signs of shock water to drink! Detailed incident report-writing skills is another important thing that I think people could use more time on as well.
5. If you do in-service training, what do you work on?
Spinal injury management, CPR, passive lifts from water, and active
Facility safety walk through, chemical checks, attention to not just safety in the pool, but on deck as well
When we have an in-service training in the "off-season" we mostly go over customer service related topics and/or first aid scenarios and what to do. During our "peak-season" we focus on rescue skills and fine-tuning our daily operations. At all of the meetings we go over updated programs, policies, and procedures.
I used to hire guards. I used to train and do inservice.
Practice backboarding. Often. monthly
Practice CPR procedures. monthly
Practice Scanning your area. monthly
Do facility safety checks often. hourly
Check stock of first aid kit often (at least weekly)
That's all I can think of for now.
Of the pools I've worked for, not properly following the facility's emergency action plan is usually the number one foul-up during a real emergency. Many times I've witnessed staff become complacent about this one. While most facilities I've worked at have routine c-spine and drowning recognition training, none have included practicing the EAP beginning to end. Rather, they focus on modules and mock situations. In several real emergencies, I've witnessed guards forget to blow their whiste and jump right in without notifying anyone about what's going on. By forgetting this crucial step, they put themselves and their victim in great danger, especially if the guard is working alone.
They must be reminded to review their manuals more often to keep their memory fresh.
7. At what rate do which skills seem to be lost?
I think backboarding and CPR skills are lost the quickest... backboarding seems to start to fade around 4-6 weeks after the course/in-service was done. It is difficult for me to judge how quickly CPR skills are lost because we do not practice these as often during in-service training; however, I can say that about 80% of all lifeguards I have given a "CPR Challenge" to have failed. That is not good.
Vigilance is always the first to go within 2-3 weeks. Walking and maintaining awareness of what's happening around you go next - the guard tends to stand in one place. Then maintaining walkways and work area clear and safe.
We have monthly trainings. This seems to be enough for most of our
guards, but if the guard is unmotivated or indifferent there is a decrease
in skill level noted each month.
The only part of this that I have anything to say on is the rate of loss. I'd say for me, if I wasn't practicing or studying I lost information after about three months. Of course, now that I'm sitting here, many things are coming back to me, so maybe my retention is better than I thought. What I mean is that I feel like three months is a good minimum interval to do refreshers. So if I was running a facility I'd probably aim for a rotating refresher schedule of rescue and first aid skills that put us back at the first skill covered every three months or less.
(Many graduates of the lifeguard training program at De Anza College who are now head lifeguards, aquatic directors or facility managers come back to help teach the class, give free tutoring and recruit employees.) Lifeguards trained at De Anza College get jobs
Answers to these questions:
To become a lifeguard, do I have to have a perfect freestyle?
Do I have to be a fast swimmer?
What if I have a bad knee and can't do breaststroke?
If I have the time, what can I do to get ready for class?
Doesn't a lifeguard need a lot of physical strength?
Isn't it difficult to rescue a heavy person who is sinking to the bottom of a pool?
Do lifeguards have to know how to dive?
What do students think about the De Anza lifeguard class?
Why take a lifeguard training class?
How much does lifeguard training cost?
If I don't want, or don't really have the time for a lifeguard job, can I still get experience?
What are the Red Cross certification written tests like?
When is lifeguard training offered?
Can I get the Red Cross swim teacher certification during the same quarter as the lifeguard training class?
And details about the prerequisite swim tests are at: Lifeguard Training FAQs