A Change in Focus: Improving Lifeguard Vigilance

is the title of a March 2019 American Camping Association (ACA) article by Diane Tyrrell, CCD, MA Ed. Tyrell states that most drownings are preventable. However, the cold-hard reality is that 19 percent of drowning deaths in the US involving children occur in swimming pools with certified lifeguards present — including in camps and camp-like programs (USA Management, 2018). Further, many drownings that occur at guarded facilities go unrecognized by the lifeguards, and the incidents are brought to their attention by facility patrons. The bottom line is that drowning can happen anywhere there is water.

Singularly, the most important job of a lifeguard (and aquatics instructional staff) is the close and constant supervision of participants in or on the water to keep them safe. Lifeguards monitor the aquatic environment, supervise participants, inform and educate them about the consequences of injury-producing behavior, and enforce rules and regulations to prevent injuries. They are also, of course, expected to perform rescues and provide immediate first aid and CPR. But to do so, they must first identify persons who are in distress in the water; if they don’t see them, they can’t save them. Click HERE to read the full article.

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