While the requirement for lifeguard in-service varies from state to state, the current industry standard is one hour per week for every lifeguard on your staff, with some flexibility depending on how many hours they work. Some states and agencies allow one hour for every 40 hours that are worked, but our recommendation has always been to have one hour per week per lifeguard regardless of the number of hours that they work. This ensures that all of the skills stay fresh in the lifeguard’s mind and they are ready and prepared in the event of an emergency.
Even more important than the number of minutes spent on in-service, is the content of the in-service. Each in-service should have a variety of content that meets the needs of your lifeguard staff, while still reinforcing the skills that they have already mastered. While active rescues are typically the easiest skills to master, they still need to be practiced so that lifeguards stay proficient at them. Below is an example schedule for your in-service, as well as tips for the different categories.
8:00-8:02 Welcome/ready to go
8:10-8:20 Guest recognition/rescues
8:20-8:50 Extrication with trauma bag, oxygen, AED
8:50-9:10 Spinal scenarios
9:10-9:20 Conclusion/teambuilding/pool notes
RESCUES: Lifeguards should be rescue ready, holding their slack and entering with a compact jump. Lifeguards should be swimming as fast as they can to the guest in distress and using the appropriate rescue. Staff playing the role of guests in distress should not yell for help, but exhibit signs of an actual active drowning guest.
1) Mouth should alternately sink below and reappear above surface of the water;
2) Arms should extend out and press down on the water (no waving for help);
3) Guests’ body should remain upright with very little kicking;
SCENARIOS: Lifeguards should be following the Circulation-Airway-Breathing protocol. Upon extrication, lifeguards immediately put on gloves and check for pulse, starting AR or CPR. Lifeguards should have proper hand placement for opening the airway and chest compressions. All equipment should be out and ready to use. Lifeguards should use current standards for compression to breath ratios.
SPINALS: Lifeguards should maintain in-line stabilization at all times. Lifeguards should be communicating aloud with each other while placing the guest square on the backboard. After placement on the board, lifeguards should strap guest to the board starting with the chest. Once straps are secured, guests should check to ensure they are tight. Lifeguards then ensure stabilization and secure the head chalks and forehead strap. The guest is then ready for extrication.
One other important note pertains to documentation of each in-service. The following are a list of items that need to be documented.
- Date of training
- Length of training
- Description of training content
- Name of person who conducted training
- Lifeguard signatures on attendance sheet