Becoming a Lifeguard
The first step in becoming a Pool Lifeguard is to get qualified. This means obtaining a RLSSA Pool Lifeguard Award (or License in some States and Territories) which is the minimum qualification for Pool Lifeguards in Australia. The training undertaken to obtain this qualification ensures that every Lifeguard possesses the skills and knowledge to handle a wide variety of incidents that occur on a day to day basis at aquatic centres around Australia.
Prior to obtaining a Pool Lifeguard Award, prospective Lifeguards must first hold a RLSSA Bronze Medallion and hold a current First Aid Certificate.
RLSSA Bronze Medallion
The Bronze Medallion aims to develop the level of knowledge, judgement, technique and physical ability required to carry out safe water rescues. The RLSSA Bronze Medallion includes some theory regarding water safety, recognition of an emergency and response as well as the following practical water components:
- Swim: Be able to swim 400 metres, continuously within 13 minutes. 100m freestyle, 100m breaststroke, 100m survival backstroke, 100m sidestroke
- Timed Tow: Be able to swim 50 metres, then tow a patient 50m within 3 min 15 secs
- Survival and Rescue Skills: Demonstrate a range of survival techniques and appropriate rescues for a range of different aquatic environments and scenarios
- Spinal Injuries: Basic management of a suspected spinal injury in shallow water
- Rescue Initiative: Demonstrate initiative in effecting a rescue of two people who are in difficulty up to 15 metres from safety
First Aid Certificate
Providing first aid when incidents occur is one of the responsibilities of a Pool Lifeguard and therefore Pool Lifeguards are required to obtain and maintain a current First Aid Certificate recognised by the relevant regulatory body in their State or Territory. Those needing to complete a First Aid Certificate should look for courses that also provide a Statement of Attainment that includes the following unit of competency from the National Health Training Package:
- HLTFA301C Apply first aid
In Australia, most First Aid Certificates are valid for a maximum of 3 years although this does vary. The resuscitation component that is often included with First Aid training, however is only valid for a maximum of 1 year and must remain current for the First Aid Certificate to be valid.
It’s best that you check with your provider as to what you need to do to maintain the currency of your First Aid Certificate.
Lifeguard Training Course
The Pool Lifeguard training course involves both theory and practical sessions in the following areas:
- Lifeguarding and the Law
- Accident Prevention
- Rescue Response
- Rescue Skills
- Rescue Procedures
- Administration and Management
- Public Relations and Education
- Pool Operations
- Venue Considerations
At the completion of a RLSSA Pool Lifeguard training course you should also achieve a Statement of Attainment with the following Units of Competency:
- PUAEME003C Administer oxygen in an emergency situation
- SISCAQU202A Perform basic water rescues
- SISCAQU306A Supervise clients at an aquatic facility or environment
- SISCAQU307A Perform advanced water rescues
At the completion of the course prospective Lifeguards are equipped with the basic knowledge and skills to work competently in swimming pools across Australia.
The qualifications required to become a Pool Lifeguard can either be completed individually or in some States and Territories are grouped together and completed in the one training course. The type of training program undertaken is entirely up to you.
The RLSSA Pool Lifeguard Award is current for 12 months. To maintain currency, Lifeguards must complete a re-accreditation process annually which in most cases involves a 1 day refresher course.
Pool Lifeguard License
In addition to the RLSSA Pool Lifeguard Award, some States also require Pool Lifeguards to complete an additional on-the-job assessment in order to obtain a Pool Lifeguard License. This on-the-job assessment ensures the Pool Lifeguard has completed a venue induction process and is able to apply the skills learnt as part of the training course to where they work.
Individual facilities may also have additional training and qualification requirements and therefore it is best to contact your local pool or leisure centre to discuss with them what they are looking for in a Pool Lifeguard. You never know, they may even offer you a job!