Instructor reviewing how to assist the primary lifeguard. (Photo credits: Emily Plurkowski, Mills College)
My boss referred me to a quote from Aristotle, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” One could view that the lifeguard team is based off of this quote, and that each team member believes in a shared set of rules:
Within the lifeguard team the primary lifeguard initiates the rescue, as the secondary lifeguard provide support. They must be quick, alert and foresee any possible gaps within the rescue operation. The challenge for the secondary lifeguard is how to participate in the critical incident without impeding the primary lifeguard, while enhancing the quality, speed, and delivery of patient care. The drills in this article focus on proper assistance and effective insertion of the secondary lifeguard.
BVM ROTATION DRILL (3 or more lifeguards, preferably 6+): Start with BVM fully assembled. All lifeguards stand in a line near the training station. All lifeguards have gloves which should be used when working on the patient.
A lifeguard will start in the primary position (Position A) behind the patient’s head (cephalic position) providing airway management with the mask portion of the BVM. Another lifeguard will be in the secondary position (Position B), to the side of the patient (lateral position), gripping the bag of the BVM with both hands. During ventilations, a tertiary lifeguard will glove up and prepare to step in.
After the third ventilation, the tertiary lifeguard will take over in Position A with airway management and the lifeguard that was in Position A will take Position B bagging the patient. The lifeguard that was in Position B de-gloves, and steps to rear of the line. OBJECTIVE: Each lifeguard will perform primary and secondary positions during ventilations with the BVM. They will each perform 3 successful ventilations consecutively for adult rescue breathing. TIMING GOAL: 20-25 seconds for each pair to complete 3 ventilations.
Lifeguards need to be ready to step into the BVM Rotation Drill
The drill ends when the initial lifeguard in Position B completes the objective in Position A. Each lifeguard should be proficient in both the primary and secondary role before moving to the variations.
BVM rotation drill variations:
RECOGNITION DRILL: Secondary lifeguard starts in the break room or office. Primary lifeguard is in the water with a victim. OBJECTIVE: Once the EAP is activated, the secondary lifeguard must be in the vacant lifeguard station in the ready position as quickly and safely as possible. TIMING GOAL: 10-15 seconds to complete the objective.
Once proficient, add to the drill that once the secondary lifeguard is in the vacant lifeguard station, they need to locate the primary lifeguard, assess and verbally identify the situation. (Same timing):
Entry Assistance Drill variation: towing position (Photo credit, Jean E. Brink Swimming Pool, Pacifica)
ENTRY ASSISTANCE DRILL: This drill follows the Recognition Drill with the secondary lifeguard in the break room. These drills start when the primary lifeguard activates the EAP. OBJECTIVE and TIMING GOAL: Listed with each variation.
PREPPING EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT DRILL: These drills start with the activation of the EAP, primary lifeguard is towing in an unconscious victim. Each of these variations should be practiced. OBJECTIVE and TIMING GOAL: Listed with each variation.
Push yourself and take training serious. Hierarchy within the lifeguard team is determined by competency
Remember: although most lifeguard skills are demonstrated, taught, and assessed on the ability of the single lifeguard, this does not mean that those skills should only be done by a single lifeguard. Push yourself and your lifeguard team. You might enjoy it.
Secondary Lifeguard 1-Hour Training Curriculum (12 lifeguards)
Briefing: 5 minutes
BVM Rotation Drill (2 groups of 6): 5 minutes
BVM Variations: (any 1) 5 minutes
Suit up: 5 minutes
Recognition Drill: 10 minutes
Entry Assistance Drill: 15 minutes
Prepping Emergency Equipment Drill: 10 minutes
Debrief/Break-down: 5 minutes