I have a problem. 

There is a municipal facility Red Cross lifeguard instructor in my home town that I know is certifying kids in 2 days with little to no pool time and no books or videos. I was astonished the first time I Heard this from a lifeguard applying for a job with me. His lifeguards lack the knowledge to perform skills as simple as an active victim rescue with out problems and forget something like deep water back boarding or passive victim extrication. I have failed many of his staff that have come to my facility for either re-certifications for CPR or Lifeguard Challenges. They just cant do the stuff.

I'm unsure what can be done to keep his community safe, because the city government is too trusting of the instructor who has been running their pool for 25 years. It's a community of 2500 so the "good 'ol boy" system is well in effect and they are unaware of what he's doing. I want to help the people of my home town, because I'm well know for being an aquatics pro there. 

What can be done? 

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The instructor that I mentioned, actually advertised on line about his class.  It was the same deal, done in two days, etc.  I cut and pasted the site and e-mailed it to the local chapter.  That way they had proof of what was going on. Here is the site:   http://www.frysspring.org/lifeguard_certification.  Since when can you do a Lifeguard class in 20 hours?

I have heard of this problem also in the LA area and am glad I saw this post for suggestions on what to do. Here is a story about how a pool was closed recently due to untrained/unsupervised lifeguarding:


Contact your local Red Cross chapter. They should be able to send out a Lifeguard Instructor Trainer to audit his classes.

I would like to provide a little different point of view. The instructor being referenced in this string of posts may indeed be a "bad" instructor, but not every "short-hour" lifeguarding course is incomplete or inappropriate. If this were the case, there would be no such thing as a challenge or review course. Both Lifeguard Challenges and Reviews are shorter than full courses and yet provide equivalent certifications to the candidates who meet course completion requirements.

It also may be unfair to blame the failing of his staff on the quality of his instruction. Remember, certification of any candidate means that completion requirements were met on the date tested; there is no guarantee of future performance.

The following are "potentially" legitimate reasons for a Lifeguarding course to come in quicker than the hours recommended for the course:

  • There may be fewer candidates than the recommended hours call for.
  • The course hours may be restructured so that there are fewer break periods and fewer "Reviews" of previous lessons, and fewer "Wrap-ups." This can amount to a savings of up to 3 hours.
  • The in-water and classroom practice sessions may be shorter due to class organization, teaching methodology, equipment availability, equipment-to-candidate ratios, candidate competence, etc. Here are a couple of examples: a 1:1 ratio of manikins to candidates, the use of several diving bricks (rather than just 1) and both sides of the pool for the brick test (dropping the bricks on both sides of the pool), use of best practices in providing Putting It All Together exercises and activities, etc. This can amount to a savings of 5 hours or more.
  • Components in a full course can be challenged (e.g., first aid and CPR).

American Red Cross Lifeguarding Instructors and Instructor-Trainers must remember that the hours for a course are recommended and not required. Certificates can be issued for Lifeguarding courses from 4-6 hours (Challenge) all the way up to the 32 or so hours recommended. Before calling an instructor "bad," you should have more compelling rationale than the length of a course.

Having said that, I realize you also mentioned not supplying textbooks or showing videos. Obviously, if the instructor is not providing required materials for the course or required skill practice, this may be a rationale for investigating further. If you are getting this information from former students in his class, I would encourage them to speak to the Red Cross about it since they are actual witnesses of what occurred. They should be willing to submit their comments in writing and indicate that they are dissatified with the instruction they received.


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