We get questions on a very regular basis asking whether or not we're familiar with any tools that make tracking lifeguard recertifications easier. With so many different certs coming due at so many different times, folks are having a hard time managing it all.
I'm in the beginning stages of putting some resources together with ideas for making this very important process easier. Before I do anything though, I thought I'd see if any of you have recommendations.
Have you used anything in the past that just didn't work? Have you come up with a "homemade" solution? What requirements would you have for a long-term solution?
Thanks in advance for any feedback.
Keeping track of certs has been a problem for me too! I used spread sheets, online calendars, and I would always miss someone.
I found a simple solution that works for a university setting. Beginning in the Fall semester and Summer session during in service everyone is tested out. This is for the entire building staff not just lifeguards. It started with complaints, but now no one knows anything different here (I have large change of staff with lots of my students going home for the summer and locals come back from out of town schools).
This away everyone's certs expire at the same time.
University of Mississippi
Thanks for the reply. In my experience I've found that a lot of lifeguard supervisors decide on using the "batch" method. From an efficiency standpoint I think it makes perfect sense.
The one question I always come back to with batching is what do you do about certifications that don't expire annually. For example, the Red Cross Lifeguarding/First-Aid certification is valid for three years. Do you simply keep track of those guards that have these certs coming due?
Thanks again for the reply.
I too believe that there is a better solution out there.
currently I am using Google sites (free)to create an employee intranet site . i am able to insert spreadsheets hosted on Google docs as a training log page for the site. the spreadsheet enters the certification date and a recert date is calculated based on a sum from the certification date. By hosting this in plain view I am hoping that it is looked at regularly by all. I also have a reminder set on my to do list to check this log every Tuesday.
i agree with the other post though on making certs and recerts at 2-4 times a year process so it is done in a 'batching format' at one time.
probably a combination of many mini methods is the answer although i wish i knew someone who could code a website or app to input and automate the process.
Interested to see other replays, so thanks for making this a topic we can all learn from
Thanks Andrew for the response.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and your multi-step solution with email reminders, spreadsheets, and batching seems to be the way to go. Unfortunately, you're right that there isn't a single solution that seems to manage it all.
You're also right that it would be nice to have something coded specifically for this purpose. I'll be sure to keep you (and everyone else on AIConnect) posted with anything we find.
I to have moved to a once a year recert date. This helps with 95% of the tracking. For the mid year hires yes you must keep track, we have an internal cert program that helps with this. I strongly recomend the once a year review, i choose summer as that is my largest staff.
Yeah this is a bear for me too, keeping track of LG, CPR/AED, O2, LGI, WSI etc. can be a nightmare. What I did was create an employee database specifically for the purpose of keeping track of their certs. It started out really basic; name, position, and certification expiration dates. I could then run reports every week/month and keep track of who was approaching expiration. Despite the additional data-entry this required it did work very well for keeping track of expiration dates, but we still had people fall through the cracks and/or forget to schedule a re-up with a staff LGI. So we also adopted a mandatory CPR re-up into our annual inservice calendar. Any staff that is going to expire before the next scheduled re-up (May and November) must re-certify. If they are unable to attend they have to schedule a re-up with one of our LGI's but we charge them the cost of the card and the LGI's time. I have a firm "it's your responsibility to stay certified not my responsibility to keep you certified" policy. It's worked pretty well so far.
A dedicated database solution sounds ideal, especially if you could get it to send email reminders when someone was coming due for recertification.
I think your comment on "your responsibility to stay certified" is appropriate. The only thing I would add to that is the fact that it's the facility's responsibility to only schedule certified lifeguards. So while it's up to have the guard track their own certs, from a liability standpoint, the pool will ultimately pay the price if certification lapses.
Thanks for the reply!
At my current facility I use a twice a year recert set up - January and late May / early June. That gives me the best shot at coordinating with college staff home on breaks and highschool aged staff. The only pain in the neck is renewing my own certs since I am the only one doing the certifying here.
At another facility things were more complicated because in addition to Red cross certifications for LG/FA/CPR/AED there was also a county cert that has a totally different schedule. There I used an index card system, not unlike a rolodex. I had a card for each staff memeber and along the top edge there was a color coded set of stickers (red for LG/FA, blue for CPR/AED and green for the all important local county cert) noting current status of certs and expiration dates. I filed them alphabetically by month according to the the shortest cert... which was CPR/AED since that is annually. That system allowed me to check on a monthey basis who needed renewals of any kind as well as quickly at a glance see the color coded status of current certs for any employee whether they were guard, instructor, assistant etc. Recertifications were run frequently at that facility on an as needed basis. The county cert would come up roughly quarterly and needed to be renewed every 4 years so it was easy enough to look ahead a few months and see who needed that as it came up and refer those staff members to county test locations... no matter how experienced any guard was they were not allowed on deck without it .... hence the green color code.
We have a year-round facility operating with staff (180-225 approx.) coming and going. I use Excel with the staff members expiration date. I have conditionally formatted the the spreadsheet to change color 3 months out of their expiration for each certification so I know who will need to be scheduled for which recert. It has worked well for me even with those that leave and come back and the nice thing is it is FREE. Let me know if you want the formatting or have any questions.
The conditional formatting idea is excellent. Having a bright visible reminder sounds like an effective solution. How often do you check the spreadsheet? Have you ever forgotten to take a look and missed recertification reminders?
This is something that I pull up once to twice a month and work with our aquatic scheduler to get them into the recertification class. I like to recertify them a few months ahead of their expiration date so if something happens, they have a little lea way. I haven't run into the problem of missing a recertificaiton but I have more problem with past employees coming home for breaks and wanting to work without their certifications being current. We do some one-on-one recerts with them in some cases.