I have reached a point where I need some clarification on the current ARC policy differentiating CPR/AED for Lifeguards from CPR/AED for the Healthcare Provider.

My interpretation is that any and all ARC Lifeguards are only eligible for the one year CPR/AED for Lifeguards certification.  This has raised an issue with some of my staff because a few of them have actually taken CPR/AED for the Healthcare Provider courses through their college and been issued a certificate that is valid for 2 years despite having no credentials higher than Lifeguard, and a few others hold higher certifications such as Emergency Response or EMT.  Are these Lifeguards certified for 2 years like their cards say, or only for 1 year because they are Lifeguards?

Any feedback from other LGI/LGIT's would be most helpful.



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From the Red Cross Change in Certificates and Validity Periods for CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer Program:

Professional rescuers other than lifeguards are in a position to use CPR/AED skills on a regular basis due to job responsibilities. The scientific literature indicates formal retraining can be changed to a biennial occurrence for some rescuers. The review has indicated that skill and knowledge retention can be accomplished through a variety of methods including skill performance, retraining and skills refreshers. Lifeguards are excluded from the two-year certification due to the predominantly seasonal nature of their work. In addition, the American Red Cross Aquatic Examiner Service supports an annual training standard. Therefore the certificate issued for lifeguards will be valid for one year.

The CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer courses will offer two certificates for participants. Lifeguards taking this course will receive the CPR/AED for Lifeguards certificate valid for one year. All other course participants will receive the CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer and Healthcare Provider certificate, valid for two years. When issuing the CPR/AED for Professional Rescuer and Healthcare Provider certificate or the CPR/AED for Lifeguards certificate, instructors should be reminded that there is no change in the content of the CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer course; only the course name on the certificate is different. Instructors have the option to issue either CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer and Healthcare Provider certificate or CPR/AED for Lifeguards certificate for these courses.

Q. Are lifeguards eligible for the two year certificate?
A. No. The CPR/AED for Lifeguards certificate is valid for one year and will be issued to lifeguards.

I Hope this helps.
Ridiculous as it is, this is how it works for ARC:
CPR for Lifeguards (used to be FPR) is the exact same course and course material as CPR for Healthcare Provider; the only difference is the validation period.
CPR for Lifeguards has a 1 year expiration date.
CPR for Healthcare Providers has a 2 year expiration date. (My understanding is that the Healthcare Provider will be exposed to situations requiring CPR on a more regular basis than Lifeguards so they will not need to be re-certified as often due to more practical experience).
When teaching a lifeguarding class or CPR challenge you must fill out the course roster to request CPR for Lifeguards certs so you will receive the proper 1 year expiration date.
Lifeguards should NOT receive CPR certifications that are valid for more than 1 year.
Hi Nick,

From my understanding, Lifeguards are only eligible for the one year certification (CPR/AED for Lifeguards). According to a FAQ document issued by our local ARC offices, the reason for this change is "Professional rescuers other than lifeguards are in a position to use CPR/AED skills on a regular basis due to job responsibilities." So, with that being said...lifeguards are only eligible to hold the one-year certification along with their lifeguarding & first aid certs...

The information taught in the CPR/AED for Lifeguards, CPR/AED/FPR and CPR/AED for the Healthcare Provider is the same. The only difference is the validity period for CPR/AED for Lifeguards only being one year.

Hope this helps!
Tara Eggleston
LGIT, National Capital Area Region
The issue you speak of regarding the CPR for the Professional Rescuer validity perioed does not impact the validity of the CPR certification but it affects the validity of the Lifeguard certification. The Lifeguard certification requires that CPR for the Professional Rescuer be renewed every year. If a person holds a two-year certification, whether it is CPR for the Healthcare Provider, CPR for the Professional Rescuer or whether it be the American Heart comparable certification (BLS), the Lifeguard certification is only valid for the first year of the CPR certification.

Lifeguards that are also healthcare providers are eligible for the healthcare provider certification.
For a lifeguard that is also a healthcare provider, the two-year certificate is valid for working as a healthcare provider but the two-year certificate is only valid for the first year when working as a lifeguard.

Pat Bennett (LGIT)
Thanks for all the feedback, this is the same info that our local ARC Exec also gave me. I just have a hard time telling my staff who have done the extra work to achieve and maintain higher levels of certification that they have to waste money every year on a re-certification even though they hold valid two-year cards. It's almost as if they are being penalized for being Lifeguards as well as EMT's.


If they are an EMT as well as a lifeguard, then the Healthcare Provider cert for 2 years is valid, as long as they are an active EMT or healthcare provider. If they are not active in an EMT or healthcare environment, then it does not apply, i.e. they're employed as both an EMT & Lifeguard, they would have to hold a valid healthcare provider cert so it would be valid. If not & they just took an EMT course, then it wouldn't be valid because they're currently not using it & getting the necessary hands-on exposure to maintain their skill level.


Terri Fisher

Aquatics Director

USMC Cherry Point



I did some digging in that particular regard because I have do have an employee who is an EMT with the local Volunteer Fire Dept.  According to our HSS Training Coordinator the Lifeguard/First Aid Card is only considered valid if held in conjunction with a CPR/AED card that is at the professional standard and less than 12 months old.  Meaning that my employee could have a 2 year card that is 13 months old, and would be considered covered while performing his duties as a Volunteer EMT but NOT while performing his duties as a Lifeguard.  I have resigned myself to the fact that if my staff want to remain Lifeguards as they progress into higher areas of care that they will just have to burn the cost of a re-cert every year regardless.


Thanks for all the help everybody.



Wow that surprises me, Nick. Thanks for the clarification.

Im a Volly EMT with the Fire Dept and a lifeguard.  I have just the prorescuer card and I am covered for both my job and working as an EMT.  My boss knows Im an EMT and I am paid to act as an EMT at the pool if a situation should arise... Because I get cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, and agonal breathing calls all the time in the fire dept, I only have to recert the CPR every 2 years, but if standards change, I typically retake the course just to make sure I am functioning to the highest of my abilities.

This is all changing now that the ARC is moving all certifications to a 2-year validity period.  However, my understanding is that ARC looks at each certificate independently -- lifeguarding certification is not tied to CPR/AED certification. The position is, however, that a properly certified lifeguard has current certification in both Lifeguarding/First Aid and CPR/AED. 

This means that if someone's CPR/AED certification expires, their Lifeguarding/First Aid is still valid.  In other words, the Red Cross policy is to not link the certifications.  This becomes an issue for employers seeking to meet regulatory requirements and standard of care issues that mandate CPR certification for lifeguards. The employer, in this case, should not schedule the employee to work as the CPR/AED certification expired.  Once the person updates the CPR/AED certification, the employer would be able to put the guard back on the schedule.

For CPR/AED certification purposes, the Red Cross for years (ever since the Heart Association issued 2 year certifications) would only recognize the 2 year cert during its first year of issuance.  This was, in part, because studies show that CPR skills deteriorate rapidly (with significant losses in as little as 6 months).  A two-year certification time is, quite frankly, too long according to the studies.  However, what we expect to happen is see the availability of self-study reminders or updates online targeted at that one-year interval to help with skill retention.  Some programs (ASHI I believe) already have reminders in place.


For entry into ARC Review Courses, again the policy was to recognize the two year CPR certificate only during its first year of issuance.  That didn't mean the certificate was "invalid" it just meant that the certificate could not be used for entry into the Red Cross Review Course.  Some people mistook that to mean that the Red Cross required annual certification in CPR/AED for lifeguards. This is partially true ---  it did using the ARC curriculum because the Red Cross only had 1 year CPR cards. However, there was nothing stopping an employer from accepting a 2 years AHA cert as valid and meeting regulatory requirements, and the Red Cross never would "invalidate" a Lifeguarding/First Aid card just because a CPR card was in the second year of issuance.


This of course changed once a "grace period" was allowed for lapsed certifications.  The requirement for entry into a Review Course was always current certification (which in the case of CPR meant one year).  When we began to allow lapsed certification of up to a year, that then in effect created an additional period of time someone could enroll in a Review Course without current certification.  Now that all certifications are moving to two-year periods, this issue may become moot. 

However, what may be an interesting twist is that the Model Aquatic Health Code may make recommendations for certificate validity that differ from the two-year timeframe that the Red Cross is moving to and that is in use by AHA.  Some lifeguarding organizations for years have required annual recertification of guards (which is also supported in the Aquatic Examiner Program). If the MAHC suggests annual certification, which is more in line with the research studies, then we may see a reversion back to a 1 year period.  It's a little early to tell, but it is most certainly an interesting issue.



This is one of those topics where you cannot catch up to the real story.  According to our ARC Chapter; as of 1/1/2011 all applicable CPR training will be valid for two years.  Anyone certified before 1/1/2011 will still only have a one-year certification until they recertify.


If you think it is difficult for you to understand, you should hear my inspectors.  This year is going to be interesting.  Don't be surprised if you have to help your pool inspector with this.


I hope the MAHC will help reduce the ongoing changes made by the various training organizations.  Trying to keep codes and rules up to date is a never ending problem.


I hope your certification tracking software will handle it!  (Oh! Wrong discussion.)




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