My child just got offered their first job, but it is at a single guard facility. Is this a good idea?
This is strictly my opinion. I have been in the field of aquatics just shy of fifteen years. I have guarded at facilities that had more than one lifeguard on the stand, and at facilities where it was me by myself. My personal and professional opinion are the same in this matter. No, it is not safe to guard at single guard facilities for the following reasons:
- If there is a spinal injury in the water, either you will have to train a non certified lifeguard to help you, or you will be handling the emergency by yourself.
- In today’s world, there are people who do inappropriate things. Many times, it is a kid who is being asked to manage a whole facility of adults who do not follow the rules. This scenario can become stressful and burn out a new Lifeguard on the job. With emergency situations or when trying to professionally handle inappropriate behavior, it is always best to have a colleague as a witness for legal reasons.
- There is no adult supervision of the lifeguard. We are back to the point of no help. Most commercial pool companies have trained managers and supervisors that visit the pool to check on the guards, but their day is filled with visiting all of the Pools and making sure that each pool is blue.
- It is very difficult when you have to use the bathroom. Many guards are comfortable notifying patrons that nature calls, but do not enforce the rules where patrons need to clear the pool because the guard can not see patrons in the water when they are using the restroom. Why do guards not enforce this very important safety procedure? They feel embarrassed or silly asking the patrons to do this. They also feel that they will upset the guests and get into trouble. There are ways to rectify this issue, but property management, pool management, and the guards have to be consistent with the resolution.
- It is sometimes difficult for a guard to get a break. Research suggests that lifeguards should be on a given stand for no more than 30 minutes, and than be given the opportunity to rotate to another stand. This is to avoid fatigue as well as getting distracted. When a pool becomes busy, the guards can not move as their sole responsibility is to watch everyone swim, prevent injuries, and respond to life-threatening emergencies as soon as they arise.
- Multiple roles. I am the lifeguard, the gate guard, the resident pool cleaner, custodian, and pool managers! What a distraction and nuisance for guards. Lifeguards get trained in how to prevent and respond to aquatic emergencies. Multi-tasking is one of the RID factors that causes accidents.
Now, I managed to handle the job responsibilities of a single guard because I loved what I was doing. However, being in administration, I had more guards resign because they didn’t like the work environment they were in.
Why are there single guard facilities?
The simple answer is that the community does not usually want to pay for a second guard and the NJ bather code does not have a rule for the number of guards without a number of patrons factored in.
When should there be a second Lifeguard added to the mix?
My professional opinion- when there are more than 10 swimmers.
The code suggests that there only needs to be 1 guard for every 30 swimmers.
I highly recommend that New lifeguards work at multi guard facilities to get support and supervision from qualified adults.