What's it like to do a Beach Lifeguard Course?
By Mark Kelly SLSGB & RLSS Trainer / Assessor
What’s it Like to do a Beach Lifeguard course?
That’s a question we get asked a lot!
So let me break it down for you.
Firstly you’ll need to satisfy us via an application form that you meet the prerequisites and fitness requirements to enroll on a course.
If you want to find out what they are, click here.
After your application has been successful and you have booked on a course, you will need to make sure you stay fit and healthy and most people will enter into some form of dedicated training.
A few weeks prior to the course we will send you a PDF copy of the beach lifeguard manual for you to study and prepare for what's in store. Our staff are always at the end of the phone or email for any questions or help with preparation.
The first day is what we like to call shakedown day, don’t expect an easy ride but expect a fun one!
We will start with registration in the classroom and go straight into the theory of the ocean environment, swell, tides, rips etc. Don’t worry though, we won't keep you cooped up inside, if it’s not lashing down, we will be out on the beach doing this. Even if it is raining, our Newquay base overlooks this beach so we can see, rips, swell and tides in real time from the warmth of the classroom. It’s a win/win!
After the theory, we will get into our wetsuits in our heated changing rooms and hit the surf.
There's no flat water ocean training on our beach lifeguard courses I’m afraid, if you want flat water, maybe a pool lifeguard course would be better for you. We train in the surf and in challenging conditions, the conditions you are mot likely to perform a rescue in as a beach lifeguard.
You will learn how to attack the surf with urgency and how to navigate a shorebreak. We always offer our candidates the opportunity to train with swim fins as these give the lifeguard an extra powerful kick making them faster and more efficient swimmers through the waves, which only helps the lifeguard get to a victim and bring them back to shore in as little time as possible. Time is a critical factor in saving a life in the ocean.
Check out this video if you’d like to see some proof of that.
We will spend lots of time swimming out back, bodysurfing back in, some running and lots of laughing as I always like to make games and races out of these valuable training techniques. When people are having fun, they learn much quicker and after all, this is an intense course but it will also be very enjoyable! You can look forward to games such as ‘the circle of death’, ‘Johnny the Ripper’, ‘River dance’, ‘Dizzy Tubes’ and much more!
Once we get changed and warmed up from a few buckets of hot tea and a lot of cake, we debrief and cover some more theory, you may also, if you're lucky, get some homework!
On day 2 we kick straight into first aid. You get to roll around the floor and play with our rubber friends. We like to try to avoid ‘blue mat’ training where possible, so you’ll be on the beach, on the rocks in caves, dealing with scenarios rather than a stale indoor environment.
In the afternoon we hit the surf again and take some boards with us. You will learn how to paddle both prone and on your knees. You’ll learn how to navigate rips, waves, tide, and wind. We will also have loads of fun surfing waves and playing games that reinforce your skills. Later on, we will look at picking up casualties, conscious and unconscious. If you thought surfing solo was fun wait until you try it with 2 people on the board! Double the fun! Seriously though, you will be learning essential and critical lifeguard board rescue skills.
The next day will involve more beach lifeguard theory, more first aid and more ocean skills. We will look at tube rescues, CPR, AED training and scenarios, lots of scenarios and cake, lots of cake, if you have been working hard!
Day 4, we hit the pool and you will get a chance to complete your timed swim, 400m in under 8 minutes for the NVBLQ. We will also look at lifeguard releases, contact tows, and underwater searches. After that it’s back to the beach for practice, practice, practice and a mock theory paper to have a crack at. Then, if you score over 25 out of 30, you get more cake! Afterwards, we will study the manuals and go over everything until everyone is happy and ready for assessment.
The day after that is generally assessment day. This is where an independent verifying assessor comes in to assess your competence. You will be tested on all or selected elements of the syllabus as determined by the assessor. Usually, there will be lots of scenarios as well as all the other practical elements. He will also test your theory in a written multiple choice test or he may choose to do this verbally. Once he has seen you perform you will have individual feedback, sort all paperwork and the outcome of your assessment will be given there and then.
If you have given 100% throughout the course then you have nothing to worry about. It’s worth knowing as well as being independently verified you are being assessed on an ongoing basis by the Trainer/Assessor and they will be quite frank with you before putting you forward for the final assessment. If you are not competent on the day in one of the elements, do not panic, you will get another chance that you can arrange with the TA at a date in future. You won't have to do the full course again, just the elements you need to do.
When we have dotted all the I’s etc we usually head to our favorite Newquay hang out, The Bear Bar, for a Posh kebab and a few beers which may or may not result in silly dance moves in Sailors later on that night.