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Final skills scenarios

Along with various skills tested in class as we go along, you will complete at least three scenarios (active victim, submerged victim and head, neck or back injury) to earn your certificate as either a pool or pool/waterfront lifeguard.

These rescue skill scenarios assess your competency and understanding of skills.

People who are not going for a certification will not need to complete the scenarios. Previously these students have gone to the Library Express and watched the CPR/AED Pro video to use the class time more effectively towards being ready to pass a certification class elsewhere. The Library Express is in room LC 123. Go to the campus map at The door to the Library Express, (room LC 123) is on the south side of the Library building, the door faces the 'grassy area'.

For most skills work/testing in this class you have as many tries as needed (within the time constraints of the class) to complete the work successfully. But please note that the instructor's manual says: "Each participant has only two opportunities to complete each scenario."

There will be no coaching. You must understand how to do each part of each skill before the testing day starts.

You should have your fanny pack, adult resuscitation (pocket) mask and gloves.

No googles or fins. Keep your eyes open while underwater doing rescues.

You will be assigned the role of lifeguard at either an elevated or ground-level station and your zone or area of responsibility will be described, for example, one half of the diving well or one half of the west end of the racing pool.


While some of the class completes the Active Drowning Victim recognition and rescue, the rest will wait elsewhere on the pool deck, or perhaps in the west end of the racing pool / or the diving well until it is their turn. You must not try to watch the guards being tested and you will fail this final exam if you do try to sneak a peek.


During the scenario that requires two lifeguard candidates to be tested, (non-spinal two rescuer backboard lift from water) if one person is competent and the other is not, the competent person can pass even if the other fails. You will not be able to choose your partner and if you need two tries you will probably have a different partner for each try. You should talk to each other to the extent that, for example, you tell the guard bringing the backboard for the lift from water which side to bring the board to, but you can't tell them how to do their job during testing. If the person you are working with does not know how to do the skill it can be difficult to continue without explaining to them how to do the skill. In real life you must communicate with the other guard to do the skill properly, (and you might need to actually teach another guard how to do a rescue during the rescue), but it would be cheating on a test for you to tell them what to do, including not only speaking to them, but clearing your throat at a specific moment, pointing, tilting your head in a direction as to 'tell' them where they should be next, or any other movement, gesture or sound that could be interpreted by an instructor to be coaching your partner.


Scenario: active drowning victim at the surface

Since part of what you are being tested on is your ability to recognize an active drowning victim, you will fail if you rescue a distressed swimmer, a poor swimmer or a pool patron who is just doing unsafe things. Pages 36 - 40 of your text has descriptions of passive, distressed and active drowning victims.

Shortly after the active victim scenario begins, a victim will start to show signs of trouble in the water to allow you to recognize the emergency. See examples of possible scenarios below.

If the victim is facing away from where you are stationed, you must use an active drowning rear rescue. See page 108 of your Lifeguarding text. If the victim is facing you, you must use an active victim front rescue (page 107). If you ditch your tube or otherwise try any other form of rescue you will fail. If you mistakenly rescue a distressed swimmer or a poor swimmer you will fail.

You will need to identify an active drowning victim at a very busy pool, and complete a rescue. Former graduates of the class, OR if there are not enough of them, current lifeguard candidates not assigned lifeguard roles, will act as patrons at the facility and will be given various activities to reenact, such as playing, jumping in the water, distracting the lifeguards or being a victim. People who are being rowdy pool patrons are warned to be safe in their play. People who are being pool patrons are asked to not swim any butterfly since a weak butterfly can look like an active drowning victim and confuse the person being tested.

possible active drowning victims:

1. A swimmer is hanging on the wall in deep water, lets go, then struggles and becomes an active drowning victim.

2. Swimmers are jumping into the water, each trying to jump further out from the side of the pool. One swimmer hesitates, leaps out and becomes an active drowning victim.

3. One patron in a group of swimmers in deep water becomes an active drowning victim.

4. A weak swimmer tries to get to the lane line for support, fails to reach it and starts actively drowning.

5. An inexperienced swimmer coming in to the wall thinks s/he is there and stops swimming/kicking, fails to reach the wall and starts actively drowning. This person can be within one foot of the wall and still not be able to reach it.

6. A pool patron holding a floation device, such as an inner tube, loses grip on it and starts to actively drown

7) or...(?)

Scenario: Passive Submerged Drowning Victim in deep water, a timed event.

You must use a submerged victim in deep water rescue. See pages 116-117 in your Lifeguarding text. If you ditch your tube or otherwise try any other form of rescue you will fail. If you just grab the victim and kick to the surface without properly using the rescue tube you will fail.

You will not need to 'recognise' this passive victim. The victim will be about 30 feet from the edge of the pool and will submerge as you get near to a maximum depth of about ten feet.

When you (the primary rescuer) activate the Emergency Action Plan (suggest you remember to bring your whistle) a stop watch will be started. You will rescue the submerged passive victim and bring them to the side, where another lifeguard candidate will join you to perform a two-person removal from the water using a backboard (see pages 118-119 in your text.) At this point you will both be tested on the two-person removal from the water using a backboard. Again, if the person you are working with does not know how to do the skill it can be difficult to continue the test without explaining to them how to do the skill, but it would be cheating on a test for you to tell them what to do. The rescuing lifeguard will have two minutes to complete this scenario, that is to rescue the victim and get them out of the water on the backboard.

Once the victim is on the deck, you will put on your wet gloves, get out your pocket mask and put it together, open the airway and check for a pulse. (You do not need to determine consciousness at this point because you did that as you surfaced with the victim.) Then the rescuing lifeguard will move to a manikin.

Following standard precautions, you will provide care for a victim who has no signs of life or pulse. Since this is a drowning victim, you will start with 2 ventilations after you check for breathing/pulse. The rescuing lifeguard will perform at least 3 minutes of CPR before being instructed to stop. A stopwatch will be started as you start CPR compressions.

Clearing the pool during this two rescuer scenario, performing other related responsibilities, such as summoning emergency medical services (EMS) personnel and controlling the crowd, would just take too much time away from the testing, so we will imagine a great emergency action plan being in place and lots of other imaginary guards to take over zones of the two lifeguard candidates while they complete their rescue.

Scenario: Head, Neck or Spinal Injury in the Water

You will rescue and effectively immobilize a spinal injury victim in shallow water. The victim will be face down and you will use a head splint, not the head/chin support.

Possible causes of this injury include:

a poorly performed flip turn

swimming underwater along the side where another pool patron did not see them and jumped in on them

drunk and dove into the kiddie pool

untrained and dove into shallow water

trained and dove into shallow water but slipped in the process


Red Cross general grading criteria include:

You must -

Recognize the emergency.

Activate the EAP, including communicating with another lifeguard.

Properly use rescue equipment. (You will be able to choose the style/size of rescue tube you want to use. You need your whistle, fanny pack with gloves and pocket mask.)

Follow the general procedures for a water emergency, including:

Size up the scene and use an appropriate entry, safely entering the water if needed.

Properly assess the victim's condition.

Perform an appropriate rescue.

Complete the rescue.

At the appropriate time, further communicate with another lifeguard and/or lifeguards, (for example, to call 911, bring a backboard, and/or bring a defibrillator).

Communicate with a conscious victim after you rescue them, including reassuring the victim and telling them what to do.

Move the victim to safety.

Remove the victim from the water or get then to a safe exit point and help them, if needed, out of the water.

Provide appropriate follow-up care.

Red Cross grading criteria specific to individual rescues includes:

For the rescue of an active victim at the surface, you must recognise an active victim and properly activate your emergency action plan. You must rescue only an active victim. You must use both arms to reach under the victim's armpits from the rear (if a rear rescue) and grasp the shoulders firmly. You should tell the victim that you are a lifeguard and there to help and continue to reassure the victim thoughout the rescue. You must keep your rescue tube between you and the victim and the tube must be positioned so that it remains in place and supports the victim at the surface of the water. If it slips out you must reposition it while supporting the victim. The victim's mouth and nose must stay out of the water. You must not release contact with the victim until you get them to a safe exit point, for example, where they can climb out of the pool at the ladder. (No, the victim will not become passive.)

Grading criteria for the submerged victim rescue includes: You must properly activate your emergency action plan. You should not submerge with the tube and should not lose contact with the rescue tube strap. You must be able to submerge to the appropriate depth, use the tube to pull the victim up and maintain grasp of the victim across their chest, not at their throat, as you bring them to the surface. (Getting your legs caught in the rescue tube line really slows down your time.) The victim must be face up when you surface and their mouth and nose must be out of and stay out of the water. The rescue tube must be placed under the victim's back upon surfacing so that the victim's head falls back to an open airway position and the mouth and nose stay above water. The victim must stay supported by the tube and not slip off or submerge. You need to tell the other guard to call 911, etc. You must make progress to the pool side. (And again, this has a time limit.)

For the backboard lift from the water, the victim must be facing the side of the pool, with head tipped back, out of the water. The two guards must communicate what, how and/or when actions happen. The victim's mouth and nose must stay out of the water and the guards must maintain their grip on the victim's wrists. As the guards turn the victim onto the board they must maintain contact with the victim. The board/victim must be removed from the pool in a safe manner (including: the victim's body should not hang off the board and the board should be lowered carefully to the ground, not dropped). You must put on the wet gloves, (easier to do if you dip them in the water, filling them with water, as you put them on) open the airway properly and promptly and get your ear down next to the victim's face while looking towards their chest and checking for a pulse at the proper place on their neck. You must maintain an open airway throughout the primary assessment.

Grading criteria for adult CPR includes that you compress the chest straight down at least 2 inches for at least 24 of the 30 compressions, that you compress and fully release the chest without pausing or taking your hands off the chest for at least 24 of the 30 compressions and that you compress in the center of the chest and finish 30 compressions in about 18 seconds. The two ventilations must make the chest clearly rise (you will need to get the airway quite open) and should last at least 1 second each. When you give the ventilations you should return to compressions within 3 to 6 seconds.

For the rescue of the spinal victim, you must properly activate your emergency action plan, use a slide-in entry (a flying leap into the pool will fail you), slowly and carefully move the victim's arms to a secure position against the victim's head, minimising movement, with equal pressure on both arms maintained throughout the rescue and your hands in the right place midway between the elbow and shoulder. You should glide the victim slowly forward before you turn them up. Once you have the victim face up, the face (mouth and nose) must stay above the water. The victim's arms must stay secure next to their head all the time. You should check for consciousness/breathing and must tell the second guard to call 911, etc.


In all cases treat the rescue as if were a real situation.

Even if you think you made a mistake, finish the rescue.

If this class is typical, there will be many people who complete all three scenarios without any mistakes. But all of you should understand the rules about how many tries you will have.

Again, please note that the instructor's manual says: "Each participant must perform three skill scenarios satisfactorily to pass the Lifeguarding courses. If a participant is not successful on the first attempt, he or she has only one opportunity to reattempt each scenario."

This does not mean that you can redo each individual part of a scenario more than once. For example, the submerged victim scenario has many skills tested in one scenario. You must activate your emergency action plan, properly rescue the submerged victim, tell the other guard to call 911, etc., properly get the victim out of the pool on a backboard, do a good initial assessment and provide care using CPR. If you fail at the submerged victim rescue skill on a first try and do it right on the second try but fail at CPR on the second try, you will not have a third try.

You are responsible for knowing all the rules, especially those that could cause you to fail the test(s).


This next section is a project that is not a part of a final skills 'scenario':

After finishing the active victim at the surface rescue you will move to a lifeguard stand and watch the pool but not actually guard it because you will not react to potential victims. There may be distressed, active or passive victims. There may be pool patrons engaging in actions which could lead to them becoming victims. After watching for a short time you will sit aside and write out what you saw, trying to identify each victim or potential victim. You will describe what characteristics led you to identify the victim(s) as distressed, active or passive. Pages 28 - 29 of your text has descriptions of passive, distressed and active drowning victims.

Lifeguard candidates will not talk to each other during or after this part until they are told they can. Since you might sit at the pool deck for some time while others finish their testing, a hat with a wide brim, towels and a plastic water bottle are recommended.
 Updated Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 5:35:59 PM by Mary Donahue -
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