Rescue Aids

National Lifeguards have the knowledge, skills, fitness and judgment to use a variety of rescue aids. National Lifeguards will apply judgment to select a rescue aid that is appropriate for the situation and environment.

The following rescue aids are recognized and supported for use by the Lifesaving Society:

  • Reaching Poles – effective for rescues where the distressed swimmer is at the surface of the water and within reach of the pole
  • Rescue Cans/Tubes – effective in deep water, waterfront, and surf environments. Caution must be used when entering the water to avoid injury to other bathers in the area. Rescue tubes are not recommended for response in shallow areas of a swimming pool
  • Throw Bags – effective for rescues where the distressed swimmer is at the surface of the water and within throwing distance
  • Ring Buoys – while typically very buoyant, they can be difficult to throw with accuracy. Caution must be used to avoid injury to either the victim or to bathers when throwing a ring buoy in a crowded swimming area
  • Flutter boards – Although not designed for use as a rescue aid they can be used. They are light, easy to carry, and provide enough buoyancy to support a victim’s head at the surface and are easily clutched by a victim in difficulty. Flutter boards should be taken not thrown to the victim
  • Lifejackets/PFD’s – Although not designed for use as a rescue aid they can be used. They are light, easy to carry, and provide enough buoyancy to support a victim’s head a the surface and are easily clutched by a victim in difficulty

National Lifeguards are taught to make both contact and non-contact rescues. In contact rescues the National Lifeguard may or may not use a rescue aid. In making a decision about the use of contact or non-contact rescue techniques, and the use of rescue aids lifeguards should consider the following principles:

  • The victims head and shoulders should be supported above the water at the earliest possible moment.
  • The safety of the rescuer must be assured. Whenever a lifeguard makes a contact rescue a second lifeguard should be prepared to enter the water to provide immediate back up if required.

National Lifeguards are encouraged to practice rescue responses with a variety of rescue aids.

BACKGROUND

Some facilities have required National Lifeguards to use a specific rescue aid at all times that is not always appropriate for the environment or rescue response. When this occurs the owner/owner’s agent is limiting the National Lifeguards ability to use judgment to determine the best and safest rescue response for the situation.

National Lifeguards are trained to use a variety of rescue aids and techniques through their pre-requisite training (Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross). They may have additional experience utilizing rescue aids from other Lifesaving Society programs such as Canadian Swim Patrol, Bronze Star, or Lifesaving Sport.


RATIONALE

A fundamental aspect to National Lifeguard certification is the application of judgment. National Lifeguards use their judgment to determine what rescue aid is most appropriate for the situation. Providing a variety of rescue aids in strategic locations provides the National Lifeguard with options for response.

The National Lifeguard program, Alert: Lifeguarding in Action, and the Canadian Lifesaving Manual support the training of National Lifeguards in the use of multiple rescue aids. National Lifeguards are trained in multiple rescue techniques and are able to respond both with and without the use of a rescue aid.