Aquatic Treasures We Have Left Behind

Our heritage as Aquatic Professionals is so rich. For decades our industry has been working to improve water safety and the rescue techniques used to save people. But I often wonder, in our effort to simplify our training programs, make courses shorter, reduce rescue techeniques to a couple of simple methods (everything starts from the rear rescue) have we left behind a lot of great lifesaving techniques that can still be applicable today?

Don't get me wrong here, I love to see a well executed compact jump entry, but wasn't it developed for jumping into wave pools where if you landed in the trough of the wave it neccessitated this manuever for personal safety? And this whole approach stroke with the arms over the tube, wasn't that also driven by the objective of getting through a crowded pool without some kids catching a ride on a tube? Remember that tubes were previously dragged behind the guard with the strap on the chest. Now we potenially have guards jumping into deep water in a compact jump, submerging for seconds and then approaching with the tube under their arms to get a lap swimmer at the other end of the pool. Can you say slow?

What ever happen to the long shallow dive in deep water, strap on, drop the tube beside you as you dive and swim head up (or down if you were in a real hurry) to the victim, it is twice as fast as a compact jump and over the tube approach. What ever happen to extricating a small victim with a simple "1, 2, 3" and a lift protecting the head as we lowered them onto the deck. I want to know why we don't teach defenses anymore? The block, the block and turn... What happen to the simple front surface approach or what E&A labeled the "dip swing, do si do"? It is a much easier way to get a victim on the tube for smaller people then coming in from behind. I want to teach releases and more than just a front headhold escape. When the tubes slips out from between the rescuer and the victim are our guards really prepared to be in body contact situations?

In a industry where we need Lifeguards to "smarter, stronger and faster" perhaps we need to look to the past to improve the future.

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Comment by Jim Wheeler on August 5, 2011 at 3:28pm

Oh Lisa, you are spot on with much of this. Especially the most complicated, slowest, hard to make teens understand extrication ever to come along. Who on earth thought this one of crossing the arms? I like to swim them in facing away from the wall, hand the arms up to two people that are holding an arm and the backboard wit hthe other hand and pull the tube  out from under them and extricate them pronto.


Release and escapes we cover in a portion of our TOTAL Guard training called when S_ _ T goes wrong... As for going back to old stuff left behind, thats why I carry 5 million in insurance, hehehe

Comment by Lisa Phillips on August 5, 2011 at 11:26am

I certify our guards in ARC, but then during in-services we practice and use other techniques, like the Canadian/Ellis extrication, which is much faster than ARCs holding and turning them onto the board. I do teach releases, what the heck, if they are in a bad situation, they need those techniques!


I hesitate to go back to some things you listed that I definitely like, such as the dive, etc., if no certifying agency is using it, because of the liability potential. Probably already opening up liability though, by using standards from a different agency than certs held anyway! :)

Comment by glenn pang on June 24, 2010 at 10:44pm
hear ! hear ! I support your thoughts completely...... I don't totally agree with my certifying organization, but if I still want to work I have to follow their guidelines. I still teach a lot of the past skills in my in-house training and at times pending on my participants needs and wants I show then some of these skills after I certify them with the current standards.

I have an un-official pdf file showing how you can incorporated some of these past skills with the current skill. if anyone want a copy I'm will to share
Comment by Alexa Pritchard on June 14, 2010 at 2:30pm
How I miss the releases and blocks... Jim - your points are all well taken and very valid. Thanks.
Comment by Ivey West on June 12, 2010 at 10:00am
Jim, I can't agree with the last thing you said more :)
Comment by Jim Wheeler on June 12, 2010 at 8:58am
Thanks Ivey and Dana, I am not concerned about losing site of a victim in a lap lane in a standard pool which is the scenario I think I was using. As for the extrication, in addition to the 3 LG classes I taught this year, my company trained over 3,000 3 year plus lifeguards in the past three years, I have seen more people slide off the side of a backboard during extrications than I would like to remember, its hard for some kids. I did say for small victims I like the lift, the board is definitely a prefered option if the size neccesitates and the there is time. I am also very familiar with the YMCA training program, We (Total Aquatic Management) train at Y's in addition to cities and waterparks. I do wonder why if the Y course is such a model for training how come many Y's in our area use the Red Cross training program? As for professional lifeguards, I am of the opinion that lifeguards are only as good as their facility manager/trainer.
Comment by Dana on June 11, 2010 at 7:19pm
I think you should really look at the YMCA Guard standards. The Y seems to expect the guards to be intelligent and able to use a variety of tools, while Red Cross unfortunately could be described as a hammer approach (everything is a nail if you're holding a hammer). The Y does extricate people with a simple lift (if deemed prudent), has multiple approaches for a variety of victims, and generally expects lifeguards to remain thinking, intelligent professionals.
Comment by Ivey West on June 11, 2010 at 3:51pm
I definitely see where you're coming from, Jim. In a wave pool, I'd be (and was when I was a teenaged guard) a much bigger fan of swimming with the tube trailing (Providing that it didn't turn into a ride for a guest trying to impede my rescue). I would never advocate, though, putting ones head down, just because I never like taking your eyes off of the distressed swimmer.

I'm also a much bigger fans of the extraction techniques we use these days. I remember my first red cross class trying to pull a 250lb man out of the pool with the old technique, and think the board is a much more effective, and safe, technique.
Comment by Gary Thill on June 11, 2010 at 3:02pm
Great blog, Jim! Thanks for raising these important questions. I'm very curious to know what your peers think of the points your raised. Maybe it's time to get back to basics!!

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