My lifeguards are complaining that rotating every 30 minutes is a pain because by the time they get comfortable they have to get up and move. Any suggestions?

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Why would you want them to be comfortable? The 30 minute rotation serves a very valuable increase focus and vigilance.
How many stations? What is the staff numbers on at a time?
I've gotta second Jeff here. You don't want lifeguards becoming too comfortable in their positions, as it allows for distractions to enter in. Keep them on their toes!
I know what both of you guys are saying - but I'm not sure that is what they are getting at. I don't think (and I'm guessing until Peter answers) but by comfortable they may mean getting a feel for patrons in the area/ swim abilities/ etc. I agree that moving and mixing it up keeps it fresh and keeps guards studying the area, but I would still like to hear more details on the question.
Try an in-service workshop on lifeguard rotations. If they are not getting a feel for the swimmers in their area of responsibility they may not be communicating effectively during the rotation with the person who was in the stand before them. Scanning activities would also help in developing a critical eye - it should not take 30 minutes to be on top of what you have in front of you. Beyond that I agree with Jeff (here at the facility I manage there are 3 positions; one is a break, one a lap pool, one a diving tank, my guards rotate every 20 minutes). They should be quite literally on the edge of their seat ready to go in the event of an emergency and actively policing rule enforcement. If by some chance they are too busy in the 30 minutes to get settled then you need more guards on and more specific areas of responsibility.
Thanks for the good advice, I think by comfortable they are telling me they don't want to be moved from station to station too much. During open swim we have 3 guard stations and one break spot. I think we will discuss rotations during training and make them understand its not about being comfortable, its about being "rescue ready"
I let my lifeguards decide on either a 15 minute or 20 minute rotation. They still feel like they have a say in it, but yet it is a small enough amount of time so that I know they are less likely of becoming complacent. On occasions when there is only one or two people in the pool and we go to one guard, I watch the lifeguard that is up. If that guard starts to not pay attention then I pull them and give them work to do. It is a great way to keep them on their toes, and it conditions them to always pay attention.
I agree with Kyle. We have done 15-20 minute rotations. This keeps them moving and it keeps them from getting too comfortable. It also reduces the entire rotation run to under an hour, so it gives them more opportunity to take break.
I agree with Jeff. When you allow a rotation longer then 30 minutes the lifeguards lose their focus. At my two pools I allow the guards to choose 20 or 30 minutes after running a day of each. I will not let them sit longer then 30 minutes because that endangers the lives of my patrons. If you are looking for some great training materials for scanning check out Tom Griffith’s Disappearing Dummies video and The Five Minute Scan. I have found that these videos really hit home the importance of vigilant scanning. Well good luck and I hope everything works out!
Our company manages a lot of single guard pools so the guard has to be in stand for the full 45 minutes. To make sure they do not get complacent, the guard has to actively scan and do a 5 minute position change. If the guard is sitting, then every 5 minutes they need to stand or walk the deck so they do not get too comfortable. We do have managers and supervisors that drive around from pool to pool to check in on them and make sure they are doing everything to our standards and on extremely hot days they will also take the stand to give the guard an extra break. I don't think 30 minutes is too unbearable, they just need to make sure they are staying vigilant. We always tell our lifeguards to guard as if they know something is going to happen. That way they don't get comfortable.
As an American Red Cross lifeguard instructor that sounds alarming to me. I hope you are not putting them in a position to take thier eyes off the pool when they are changing positions. Climbing up and down from an elevated stand absolutely breaks surveillance. There really should be another member of the safety team who is capable of taking over surveillance if that guard needs to use a restroom, move to another location to minimize glare or have a better vantage point as well as to assist in an emergency otherwise they should technically be clearing the pool everytime they are not providing constant surveillance.
They do not take their eyes off the pool. The majority of the pools are small and do not have tall guard stands. Most of them have chairs so the guard can keep their eyes on the water and simply stand up on deck. Our company is Jeff Ellis and Associates licensed, so this position change is a requirement to make sure the guards do not get complacent. Even in the guard stands, there are (for the most part) platforms that enables the guard to easily stand up. We also post zone validations at every facility so guards know where the glare is from the sun at any given hour so they can move accordingly before they take the stand. If a guard does have an emergency and has to use the restroom, then we do instruct them to clear the pool.


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