Ongoing trainings that are scheduled, and thoroughly documented, are an essential part of maintaining an effective aquatics staff. A well-designed in-service training program will not only help your lifeguards become better prepared, but it will actively engage them in what it means to be a lifeguard. It will instill the values of responsibility, care and professionalism into your team so that they are motivated to do their best.
Whether it's more consistent DROP Drills that every guard needs, or specific, remedial training to address a particular guard's needs—in-service training is a necessary component of a culture of safety in and around the water.
Here are some items to consider:
There are a few things that you should consider when planning and scheduling your in-service training for the year:
1) Know what resources are available. We offer resources on our website to support your in-service training. Our series of aquatic shorts are 1-2 minute refreshers on a variety of aquatic safety topics that can be shared during staff meetings, or used as part of your in-service training.
2) Understand your water. Even if your lifeguards have responded effectively to a crisis—this is an opportune time to retrain all staff on safety protocol, and highlight what was done well, and what could have been done more efficiently.
3) Check your in-service training schedule. It's important to create an in-service schedule to map out trainings for the entire season/year. Your schedule will also provide a way to easily identify guards that are due for re-training.
4) Document when a lifeguard has failed an exercise. Remember to thoroughly document all training to gauge whether more training, remediation or dismissal from lifeguard duties may be necessary.
5) Know your lifeguards. Understand your guards' ability to handle an emergency situation with confidence and proficiency. It's not always easy to confront adult members about safety issues or bring up safety concerns with other staff. Be sure your lifeguards have the physical, mental and emotional capacity to serve in this role.**
Before reviewing some specific topics, it is helpful to visit some basic principles which will help you to ensure an effective training program:
1) Schedule your trainings for the whole year, and communicate agendas to your guards in advance to allow them time to prepare questions/thoughts.
2) Offer multiple opportunities to attend trainings so all guards have the chance to participate. Develop a make-up plan for anyone who is unable to attend.
3) Take trainings beyond conditioning and back boarding.
4) Keep records of the trainings, including attendance and topics covered.
5) Ask guards for feedback, including asking them where they can use more support/practice/education.
6) Design trainings with ALL possible scenarios in mind, (e.g. one guard on deck, half-staff weekends, early morning adults, or after-school children).
7) Allow experienced lifeguards to lead trainings to help them feel invested, and to reinforce their skills.
8) Be sure to offer positive feedback and encouragement, as well as constructive criticism where appropriate.
Emergency Action Plan Drills
Enforcing Rules and Policies
Recognizing Medical Events and Extended Breath Holding
Effective Guard Rotations
We encourage everyone to draft, plan, and understand the value of in-service trainings. If you have questions on in-service trainings at your facility, please reach out to your Redwoods Consultant.
One of our customers has provided some examples of their in-service trainings. They develop their trainings based on current trends, audit results or topics that their staff need to improve on. They have also provided an example of their corrective action form if an employee fails an exercise or exam. Please feel free to use these resources and share widely.