How to Become a Life Guard
Life guarding is a professional occupation that involves training of individuals to become trained in water rescues. In order to become a life guard there are several courses one has to take, which train and test individuals on their swimming skills, knowledge on first aid, and the ability to perform effective rescues. In Ontario, Canada, for an individual to become a qualified life guard they must be 16 years of age and have successfully completed the Bronze Medallion course, the Bronze Cross course, and the National Lifeguard Service (NLS) award. In addition, they need to hold a current Standard First Aid & level 'C' CPR certifications. Once these qualifications are obtained, in order for the individual to stay current, they must recertify their first aid, CPR, and NLS qualifications at least every 2 years. If these qualifications have expired then the individual is no longer allowed to guard.
These courses are offered by private companies, municipalities, Red Cross, and the Lifesaving Society. Trained life guards can earn anywhere from $9 to $15 per hour, pending on their qualifications, experience, and on the employer.
First Aid & CPR courses train people on how to respond to various medical emergencies, such as, severe bleeding, fainting, shock, diabetes, seizures, broken bones, poisoning, heart attacks, strokes, etc.
Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross teaches candidates on how to respond to potential drowning victims, in such a way so as to not endanger themselves during the rescue attempts. At this point candidates are not considered life guards but only lifesavers. Candidates are still taught not to place themselves in danger when performing rescues. This is so important because a panicking drowning victim is very dangerous if the rescuer gets too close. A panicking swimmer will instinctively grab anyone who comes too close. They do this in a desperate attempt to keep their head above water. Many times the result is a drowning of both the original victim and the rescuer.
NLS trains candidates to work in teams, where they have back up (other guards), and to be able to do more complicated and more effective rescues. In this course there are physical skills they must complete, knowledge they must show they possess, and various rescues they must prove they can perform. This course is about 40 hours in length.