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How do I Learn Lifeguard Rescue Techniques?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Becoming a lifeguard can be a great career opportunity for those with the requisite skills. For people who enjoy working outdoors, are athletic, or have an interest in public health and safety, working as a lifeguard can be rewarding and beneficial to the community. Almost all lifeguard jobs require certification or demonstrable proof of certain lifeguard rescue techniques. Training in lifeguard rescue skills is a vital part of the job, and should be taken seriously and periodically revisited over the span of a lifeguard’s career.

Lifeguard rescue skills typically involve emergency medical aid techniques. Emphasis is often placed on rescue methods that would be most necessary in a lifeguard’s environment, such as on the beach or at public swimming areas. Lifeguard rescue training often involves learning an practicing rescue breathing methods such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and proper treatment of drowning victims. Most lifeguards are also required to have extremely strong swimming skills and receive considerable training to teach them how to best rescue a victim from water.

To learn lifeguard rescue techniques, many experts recommend taking a training course that includes certification. These courses, when offered by reputable health organizations such as the Red Cross or American Lifeguard Association, can help new lifeguards find employment by certifying them in rescue techniques. Most programs involve several classroom hours, hands-on practice and training, and a series of tests that must be successfully completed before certification is allowed.

Taking a lifeguard rescue course will ensure that a new lifeguard is prepared to handle the situations that may arise on the job. Courses are typically held throughout the year, though they are often easiest to find in early spring months when pools and beach organizations are preparing for busy summer seasons. Contact local public health organizations or community education centers to find information about available courses in the local area. Community colleges and youth education programs may also provide short lifeguard rescue training courses to qualified students.

For those who do not wish to have a career as a lifeguard, but simply want to be trained in emergency techniques, finding an instructional lifeguard or first-aid handbook can teach some basic rescue skills. Although reading a manual is unlikely to provide qualifications for an official lifeguard position, understanding rescue techniques can prove valuable in situations where no lifeguard or medical personnel is present. Self-training can be useful and potentially lifesaving, but many experts caution that skills should only be practiced in an emergency when there are no certified rescuers in the nearby area.

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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By Mor — On May 01, 2012

@KoiwiGal - That's why it's good for everyone for people to volunteer as lifeguards.

A lot of the local lifeguard jobs are done by local people in their spare time, particularly the local teenagers who might be working towards getting a qualification or might simply be doing it because they can.

Regardless, they will all be able to put "Lifeguard" on their resume, which looks awesome to almost anyone, whether or not the job you're applying for is near the water.

And they are techniques which will serve you for the rest of your life. I've got dozens of friends who have either got into trouble on the water themselves, or rescued or witnessed someone else in trouble on the water. It's something that's likely to happen to you in your lifetime, so it's good to be prepared for it.

By KoiwiGal — On May 01, 2012

@bythewell - It depends on the course really. I know that there are definitely courses that they have for teachers and other people who might end up monitoring kids in a pool, or swimmers in other circumstances, which don't have a high physical aspect.

They just teach how to recognize when someone is drowning (throwing their hands up in the air is actually not the best sign that someone is having real difficulty) how to avoid and escape the worst dangers in the ocean (like riptides), how to rescue someone, how to use things like lifeguard rescue tubes or the lifesavers they have on board ships.

Actually it's worth getting a qualification just because there are so many jobs where it would be considered an asset. Almost any holiday job in a theme park is going to prefer you to have water safety training, any work on ships or at a pool, or even anywhere near water, the people will consider it a good thing to have on your resume.

By bythewell — On Apr 30, 2012

I think if you really want to learn the techniques it can be worth taking the course, even if you don't want to work as a lifeguard. There are different levels of courses that you can take, even if you want to be a lifeguard and if you take one of the lighter, less expensive courses that could suit almost anyone who just wants basic fitness techniques.

I would go and ask at the local pools and fitness centers to see if they offer any courses, like perhaps a bridging course to lifeguard techniques or something.

The other place to check is with the local first aid courses like the ones the Red Cross offers.

Often, especially if you live by the ocean, they will offer lifeguard courses that you can take.

The courses can be very tough, so make sure you have a good level of fitness before you start.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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