Is there a tool that directors or guards can use to help certify what a zone is, and how to guard it based on various usages i.e.; open swim, lessons or camp swim?
Zone certification with a silhouette (or similar object) can be used to certify a zone. This can be done by dropping the silhouette in different locations (center, corners, near ladders, shallow, deep, etc.). From the guard’s location, you will need to validate that the “victim” is visible. If so, move the guard’s location and validate the next zone. If there are any locations where the victim is not visible then the guard needs to move locations, put more guards on duty or close that portion of the pool. Repeat this validation process throughout the day and then repeat quarterly throughout the year (to account for seasonal changes to the angle of the sun). This zone certification can be done during different programming. You can then create a zone certification map for each program that illustrates the lifeguard position for the different zones.
Click here to see an example of a zone coverage map
I feel complacency is a big concern with our long term aquatics leadership. What are some recommendations on how to re-train Aquatics Directors around today’s topics?
It’s important to keep your Aquatics Directors in the loop on recent trends. Keep them informed on trends that are released by AOAP, Red Cross and YUSA. Rather than calling it “re-train,” let’s keep training. As things are changing, keep training to meet those changes. We can’t keep doing things the old way. We also need to have strong performance management. This includes clear expectations, removing any barriers, providing the tools they need to meet those expectations and holding them accountable.
Do you have any suggestions on lifeguard recruitment? I find many aquatic directors allow sub-par guarding because they need to fill the spots on their schedule.
Think outside the box. Your guards don’t always have to be a 16-25-year old. You can hire older adults or senior citizens that are looking for part-time or retirement work. You can also start a junior lifeguarding program with mentors. This can serve as a “feeder program,” so the students are trained from early on and have a goal to be a lifeguard. In order to retain your guards, positive reinforcement is the way to go. Acknowledging great work, or even creating a visual incentive program will create a sense of community.
How do you get your members or patrons to be a part of your in-services in order to run a more realistic scenario?
One solution that has worked for many of our customers is to change the conversation with members—positioning the drills as a way to ensure the highest level of safety for all members, rather than a disturbance.
Should the silhouette always be used for water entry drills, or could it be used for “dry” scan tests?
Silhouettes can be used for “dry” scan tests as well as for water entry drills. There are stages of DROP drills that you can lead at your in-service trainings. The first is to have your guards blow their whistle and raise their hand within 10 seconds of recognizing the silhouette. The second stage is during regular hours, have your guards jump in and go get the silhouette once it’s spotted. They have 30 seconds to spot and retrieve. The third stage is to have a real person waiting by the silhouette for your guards to rescue. These in-service trainings are meant to be a progression.
Would you say that doing a drill/practice every day or every shift is sufficient? Do you have any suggestions on making drills more realistic?
Not only is it sufficient, but it’s a great way to build confidence and practice skills. You can make drills more realistic by using real equipment, starting the drill on the deck as opposed to already being in the water, blowing the whistles, retrieving oxygen and the AED, using live victims, pushing the emergency button and working with someone you’re typically on shift with. You can also practice providing emergency care on the pool deck in various areas—not only the most convenient place—or try administering care in the bathroom, shower, top of a slide or baby pool.
How would you recommend a director speak influentially to aquatics staff when they see things are not being led effectively?
This culture of safety has to start at the top. Leadership needs to develop a culture of safety where everyone knows the expectations, people are praised when they meet expectations and everyone feels comfortable correcting behaviors when someone is not meeting expectations. A culture of trust and safety will aid in these conversations.
Is it possible to change the mindset of a lifeguard if it is a protective instinct to believe, “It's not happening to me?”
Yes—our guards need more exposure. We need to teach them what to be looking for, and what behaviors they should expect to see. This will amplify their confidence and set them up for success. The more we introduce, the more we show, the more they practice they’ll begin to feel more comfortable.
The remediation for failed drop drills includes removing guards from schedules for certain periods. How is this trainable? They are not there for us to train them, especially if it’s the week of remediation. Thoughts?
Remediation should be done right away. You can do this by reviewing what did we learn, how would you do this differently next time and practice the drill again right after. Remediation isn’t a punishment, it should be specific and targeted for each lifeguard that fails a drill. It’s also a great time to train them individually when they are not on the schedule.