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During the summer, every aquatics department usually sees an influx of visitors. The most important aspect to keeping your members safe during this time is to ensure your lifeguards are equipped with the best practices and training.

At the Valley of the Sun JCC in Scottsdale, Arizona, lifeguard training is an intensive, three-day American Red Cross-certified program that includes CPR and AED training, as well as first aid and in-water skills.

Debbie Meeks oversees all lifeguard training (photo courtesy of the Valley of the Sun JCC).

“Future lifeguards must have strong swimming skills in order to learn and eventually perform water rescue, spinal injury recovery and swimmer assistance techniques,” said Debbie Meek, the J’s aquatics director. “This is why we test these skills before we train or hire.”

Understanding the positive effect well-trained lifeguards have on the member experience is why Meeks has six certified instructors on staff. “Well-trained guards give our members the peace of mind to relax and enjoy their time at the pool knowing their safety and well-being is our No. 1 priority,” she said. “We stress to our guards that the J is a close community, and getting to know our swimmers is helpful in learning their strengths and limitations, in addition to creating a friendly positive environment.”

It’s also important to understand the negative experience a member can have if your facility sports poorly trained lifeguards. “Inadequately trained guards, in addition to being a liability, do not inspire confidence,” said Meeks. “It is imperative that a guard be calm and act quickly in an emergency. Emergency procedures should be second nature, should a situation arise.”

Because a lifeguard’s job is to take the lead in promoting safety around water, requiring the necessary certifications is a must. But also to not be overlooked are the qualities and established relationships among employees who promote your facility in a positive light.

“Being approachable and friendly are also qualities we look for, in addition to the physical skills required,” said Meeks. “Training is physically strenuous and mentally challenging for instructors and students – you want instructors who are encouraging and dedicated to teaching best practices.”

Brittany Howard

Brittany is the editor of Community Rec Magazine. Reach her at brittany@peakemedia.com.

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