We frequently get asked by private citizens if we provide Lifeguards for private functions such as backyard pool parties. We've never provided a Lifeguard ourselves and have instead taken the citizen's information and referred it to our staff if they are interested As I'm looking into some alternate revenue sources for 2012 I'm wondering if we could instead make that a service we provide. Do any of your facilities offer this service? Any info that you could provide would be appreciated
My only comment would be to make sure that the potential revenue you are seeking FAR outweighs any additional liabilities your lifeguards or your affiliation may incur (i.e. have legal counsel evaluate waivers, policies, etc). I'm sure this is nothing new to you but sometimes it's good not to lose the forest for the trees... Especially when we have external pressures to increase revenue! I wish you good luck with this and will follow this conversation to see if anyone does have something they use. I'm sorry I couldn't be of much help.
Just a few thoughts that I have on the subject...
I think I would stay clear of hiring our guards to work at another facility. It just seems like a lot of issues can come up. At your facility, your guards have the final say. At Jane Doe's house, she may want the party to continue, even when the guards think the weather is too bad. Who wins? What if the kids are being unruly? Then the whole Legal liability-thing comes to mind.
If it is something you want to look into, I would recommend your facility's legal counsel.
Is it possible to make some adjustments & entice these parents to host at your facility?
Even parents who have pools often schedule parties with us because we have Lifeguards, parking, easy cleanup, indoor pool, easy to find, plenty of space all at a reasonable cost. We've also looked into organizing games or music and scheduling a "Party Coordinator" who would be in charge of making sure things run smoothly. It would be a head guard who would not have to lifeguard... just make the parents feel taken care of. Of course, these costs would have to be added to the fee.
I'm right with you in needing additional revenue. Maybe we can pump out some pool water for car washes.
At the facilities I supervise is a No, No!
The liability is to high for us to be involved and the interest for our facilities is minimal or either negative.
Nick and other interested readers,
Your colleages have shared good advice. I have done extensive research on this, written articles, and given presentations. Any decision to serve environments outside of your facility should be carefully evaluated by your legal department and insurance company. The chief liabilities for facilities pertain to meeting the standard of care and meeting equal-opportunity employment obligations. I’ll quickly address the basics of them here.
Lifeguards in any organization must have all appropriate resources to deliver the standard of care expected of their position. Basically, they need to be able to do their job in all locations and situations they are assigned (by you) to do it. A lifeguard with a whistle and a rescue tube is not enough. If your facility has a backboard, AED, BVMs, a carefully practiced EAP (that often includes other staff aiding in an emergency), then a lifeguard needs all of those things on a satellite job site, too. If he doesn’t have them, then the message to everyone—your customer, staff, supervisors, and insurance company—is that those things are not essential to the job. Even worse, as perhaps the only aquatic expert in your organization, you are then knowingly operating outside of the guidelines of your training organization or governing body. That, among other things, exposes you to external liability.
Internally, your organization is likely bound by laws requiring that employees be given equal opportunities for jobs, scheduling, whatever. The satisfaction of your private pool customers will reflect positively or poorly on your facility. Therefore, the lifeguard should have excellent surveillance, rescue, and decision-making skills. As well, he should posess the ability to immediately gain the customer’s trust and participants’ respect, evaluate the environment for hazards, settle disputes, and assert the terms of the contract. So not just any lifeguard. A great lifeguard. And let’s be honest. Many young professionals still building their skills and confidence do best when there are veteran lifeguards and supervisors to model in their workplace. How you assign these jobs may seem to your staff a lot like playing favorites, which could upset morale or land you a lawsuit for a perceived hostile work environment.
There are companies that exist expressly for the purpose of serving homeowners with private pools. At Backyard Lifeguards, we work with local parks and recreation departments, non-profit organizations, and pool management companies to help them meet the needs of their residential pool patrons. As well, we educate their staff members on the liability they and their families assume when they take these jobs on their own. (There are a whole lot of other reasons why referring or “brokering” lifeguards can also be a problem.) Our colleagues are always happy to direct the customer to a resource that can help them, rather than explain all the liability reasons that they can’t.
Please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at smccormick@Backyard-Lifeguards.com if you would like more information or to keep the discussion going.
I would agree with most of what everyone else is posting. The biggest factor is laibility. You need to consider the fact that something could go wrong; and would your lifegaurd be able to handle the situation alone?
Another factor to consider, many private parties want a lifeguard because they know adults will be consuming alcohol and they are trying to reduce their liability if an incident were to occur. Where do you think they are trying to push the liability?! Would your guard be capable of handling a drunk attendee who is not following the agreed upon rules on their own, with no back up?
Yours is a very interesting idea that I believe would appeal to many municipalities looking for ways to provide additional services to the community.
Liability, the main concern expressed here, is an interesting subject within the aquatics community; from time to time, we hear horror stories of facilities who in one way or another have failed in their standard of care in a way that has caused a tragic outcome followed by a hefty settlement. As we reflect upon these tragic case histories, we should remember that liability can only be assigned to the lifeguard and his/her agency if (1) there is a failure in he lifeguard's duty to act or standard of care (the lifeguard is negligent), (2) injury or damage occur, and (3) the negligence of the lifeguard is determined to be the proximate or contributing cause of this injury or damage.
Every time a lifeguard takes to a lifeguard chair, there is the chance that he or she will make a mistake and that mistake will lead to injury or loss of life. Although there are legal steps we can take to avoid or minimize our liability, the very best thing we can do is not make the kind of mistake that endangers the public. After 15 years as a lifeguard, 7 years as a head lifeguard/aquatics coordinator, and over 38 years as a Red Cross Lifeguarding and WSI instructor and instructor-trainer, I can tell you that you REALLY can avoid those kinds of mistakes!
Another aspect of liability to consider: When you provide a service on residential property, a homeowner's insurance policy may cover any injuries occurring on the premises during the activity that requires your service. Homeowners should make sure their policy covers their pool and pool party activity. If it does, the presence of a lifeguard/water watcher at the pool party is a good thing and may even be requested by the policy underwriter.
If you or your agency is considering this service, discuss the idea with your agency's attorney and/or risk management department. They may be able to help you generate application forms, waivers, injury prevention strategies, and emergency procedures.
With all due respect to Stephe, whose comments I enjoyed reading, backboards, AEDs, oxygen systems, etc. are not necessarily requirements for lifeguarding/water watching in a residential situation where you are likely to be watching over children (much less likely to need an AED, backboard, etc.).
Remember, the standard of care you are trying to meet is NOT what you are doing at a large multistaff facility, but rather what other lifeguards/water watchers know and do n their residential situations.