For years we have had a very rigid in-service schedule that requires all guards participate in one of 3 offered times a week.  I currently have a policy in place that says if you cannot attend an in-service in that week you must give me 2 days notice.  If no notice is given you are written up.  What I have been struggling with is what to do with the people who do give appropriate notice.  I feel like there are some people I never see at in-services due to their class schedules, other jobs and summer travel plans.  I have been toying with the idea of having a bank of assignments they could complete to make up their in-services so they don’t just get a free pass.  Does anyone else have something in place for this situation?  Due to a super tight budget I cannot take the time to do one on one make ups, so I need something that is not time consuming to me.

Any ideas?

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How many guards do you have Robin? 3 times a week would be way too extreme for my staff as we do IST's once a month. If they miss 2 in a row they get taken off the schedule. 

I have around 55 lifeguards.  Most of them take summer classes and have other jobs that we have to work around.  I give them 3 different time slots that they can pick from in a week.  We do in-services every other week. 


We written training assignments that we provide our staff in addition to regular training. That could be an option. Another could be quick training (5-10minute) assignments done by a Lifeguard Training instructor or senior staff member. This could CPR, or water extrication with CPR or just rescue breathing. It could also be a team training (2-3 person team). Good ABC's are better than advanced care, and repetition doesn't hurt.

Or pick on the people that miss in-service to be the primary rescuer during audits.

Our philosophy is that you may miss training, but you WILL make it up at another time. I think the fact that you already give them three options is very generous on your part. They should be able to make at least one of them especially if you offer them at different times of day on the different days you offer it and if you give them months notice of the dates (make an annual training schedule and hand it out). I could see if it were scheduled Mon, Wed or Fri at 7pm that a class or other job might keep them from attending one or the other, but if one day its a morning then an afternoon another day and the final one in the evening, I can't believe they canot make one of them. To me it has to be made up and I think Pete DeQuincy offers some creative solutions. I guess my fear has always been that the person that chronically misses training may be on deck during a critical incident and if something goes wrong the lawyers may focus on the lack of attendance at in-service training as a contributing cause to the incident. Have a make up and then follow Jakes advice, misss more than one or two without make up then take them off the schedule.

Two summers ago I ran 3 options every two weeks (7 to 9 am one Monday; 7 to 9 pm the following Monday; and 7 to 9 am on Saturday). Regardless of their shift, school or vacation schedule I found very limited circumstances when there was a legitimate reason to be absent. I released this schedule in March and told staff to plan accordingly. I held a special shorter in-service each month for people with unexcused absences, told attendees to bring a barf bag and made them swim sprints until I got tired of watching. They had to sign up for the day that they wanted, and had to get pre-approval to switch days.

Last summer we were closed on the weekends (budget) so I had Saturday morning in-service every other week. I had a much smaller staff but running 1 training for 45 guards was a real challenge.

I think the trick is making the make-up training so undesirable that they will find a way to make it to your scheduled training. My first boss had a very predictable bi-weekly training schedule (7 to 9 am payday Fridays) had to attend, period. If it interfered with summer school then you should have worked harder during the year so you didn't have to go to summer school. Guess what, everyone attended.

I have 2 pools so I have made it into a competiton between sites to see which staff has a better attendance record. You could assign training partners and make their "grade" dependent on the attendance and performance of both partners.
By the way, I run every single training (if I can plan my vacation around the training schedule then so can they). If I did not cancel our in-service training on 9/11 (2001) or when my wife was in the hospital then you better believe I'm serious about attending in-service.


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