Although lifeguards perform many functions in many surroundings, a lifeguard’s primary responsibility is:

The protection and well-being of all patrons in the guarded area, in both land and sea, through persisting vigilance and right response.

At the lowest, a lifeguard is competent in first aid skills, rescue swimming, and public relations. At the premier level, a lifeguard is an practiced EMT who handles a vast spectrum of skills in many situations that may not even call for lifeguarding in the typical sense. These skills can include training in Code 3 Emergency Driving Techniques, Personal Water Craft Rescue, law enforcement, ATV operations and many other advanced skills.

The level of skills and expertise that you need to have in order to be recruited depends specifically on the lifeguard role required and the lifeguarding setting you wish to enter. For example, someone who is serious in becoming a deckhand or operator on a high-speed rescue vessel in Huntington Beach will need different trainings than someone who is intrigued in a lifeguarding job at a local pool.

Although all lifeguarding positions expect different skill sets, there are four standard skills that all lifeguards must perfect :

1) Physical Fitness

Physical conditioning is a critical point of an competent and effective lifeguard. Although by no means do you have to be an Olympic Swimmer, you must be able to swim at a reasonable pace for extended intervals of time. Along with good swimming capabilities, you must be truly confident in the water and be able to tread water for stretched periods of time. You must also have enough muscle to protect, tow, and assistance victims for short to moderate intervals.

2) Concentration and Assiduousness in a distracting and Stressful Setting.

We’ve all noticed it; the beach that is grouped with 1000s of people doing all sorts of ‘interesting’ activities, all dressed in bikinis and board shorts. The sun heats the beach to a sleep-inducing heat of 90F and there’s a constant sea breeze in the air. In an environment like this, it’s not difficult to enable your eyes relax and join the masses that are indiscriminately ‘people watching’ at the beach. Not for lifeguards. Regardless of all these distractions, it is critical that lifeguards remain alert and utterly attentive in their responsibilities. It can take LESS than a minute for a drowning to develop, so it’s extremely important to posses the capability to focus on the job at hand.

3) Rational under Stress and Difficulty

The ability to stay calm and self-assured in a exhausting environment is a MUST for lifeguards. One moment you’re routinely scanning the pool and telling little Johnny not to run, the next second you take a look across the pool deck and you see an aged man quickly grab his chest and fall unconscious to the ground. Can you respond effectively and keep composure in this ‘life or death’ situation? Or will you break under the demands?

4) Communication skills

As a lifeguard, the community anticipates a lot from you. Whether someone wants to know the water temperature or someone is complaining about a child kicking sand in their face, you have to interact with the public in a competent and courteous manner. As your experience as a lifeguard continues, your ability to handle the public’s inquiries and disputes will strengthen. It is valuable to keep a positive attitude and stay focused on the larger task at hand, especially when an annoyed beach goer is aiming to disturb from your duty with his/her complaints.

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