Contract Lifeguarding Position Statement
A lifeguard system must be provided for contract lifeguards. This system includes the development of a specific facility safety and supervision plan, operating and emergency procedures, emergency equipment and training of the lifeguard in the facility’s procedures. When a school or other group hires a lifeguard for an event or outing, the group and the lifeguard should work together to establish the lifeguard system. Examples of the decisions required include:
- Establishing lifeguard to bather ratios
- Establishing the boundaries of the swimming area and areas of supervision
- Role and orientation of other supervisors (e.g. teachers, group leaders, and parents)
- Identification and provision of emergency equipment
- Emergency procedures for the location including the emergency communication system
- Lifeguard insurance - solutions include adding a clause in the contract that treats the lifeguard as an employee of the group covered by their liability insurance or National Lifeguards may also purchase individual Professional Liability and General Liability Insurance.
If the group is not willing to work with a lifeguard to establish the lifeguard system, the Lifesaving Society recommends that the lifeguard refuse to lifeguard the event. For more information about creating the lifeguard system consult the Alert Manual, the Lifesaving Society Alberta Public Pool Safety Standards, and Waterfront Safety Standards.
Throughout the year the Lifesaving Society receives calls from lifeguards and groups such as schools with questions about lifeguarding events at local lakes, backyard pools or similar facilities. These calls peak in the spring when schools begin planning end of school year outings. The most common questions deal with the certification requirements for the lifeguards.
The National Lifeguard certification is the standard for lifeguarding in Canada.
A common assumption is that if a certified lifeguard is hired for the event, enough has been done to ensure the safety of the participants. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Lifeguards who work at public aquatic facilities receive additional facility specific training as part of their orientation.