A lifeguard must always be prepared to enter the water to make rescues. After determining that the victim needs help, the lifeguard should assess the victim’s condition and use an appropriate rescue. The skills in
this chapter can be used in most aquatic
environments, although they may have to be
modiﬁed in some situations.
FOR A WATER EMERGENCY
6. Provides emergency care as needed. Depending upon
In all rescue situations, the lifeguard recognizes an emergency in the water, activates the emergency action plan (EAP) (Fig. 5-1), uses rescue equipment and follows these
LIFEGUARDING TIP: A lifeguard must
always provide for his or her own safety
and the safety of the victim when making
1. Assesses the victim’s condition. Determines whether
the victim is a distressed swimmer, is an active or passive drowning victim at the surface or submerged or has a possible head, neck or back injury.
2. Safely enters the water, if needed. Chooses the best
entry based on—
Whether the lifeguard station is elevated or at
Obstacles in the water.
Location and condition of the victim.
3. Performs an appropriate rescue. Swims to the victim,
if needed, and performs a rescue appropriate for the
4. Moves the victim to safety. Brings the victim to the
side of the pool or pier or to the shoreline.
5. Removes the victim from the water. Uses the removal
technique appropriate for the victim’s condition and
the facility’s design.
the victim’s condition, gives rescue breathing, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or other care until emergency medical services (EMS) personnel arrive.
The use of rescue equipment makes a rescue safer for
both the lifeguard and the victim. The primary piece of
rescue equipment used by lifeguards is the rescue tube.
However, state and local laws and regulations may require facilities to have speciﬁc rescue equipment available, such as ring buoys and reaching equipment. Speciﬁc or specialty rescue equipment may also be used by a facility due to the nature of the environment, such as in
a waterfront environment.
The rescue tube is a 45- to 54-inch vinyl, foam-ﬁlled tube with an attached tow line and shoulder strap (Fig. 5-2).
When performing patron surveillance, a lifeguard
should always keep a rescue tube ready to use.
● Keep the strap of the rescue tube over the shoulder
● Hold the rescue tube across the thighs when sitting in a lifeguard chair or across the stomach when standing.
● Hold the excess line to keep it from getting caught
in the chair or other equipment when starting the
Reaching Pole and Shepherd’s Crook
A reaching pole is made of aluminum or fiberglass and
is usually about 10 to 15 feet long. The shepherd’s crook
is a reaching pole with a large hook on one end
(Fig. 5-3). A reaching pole or shepherd’s crook can be
used to reach out to a distressed victim to pull him or
her to safety.
Rescue buoys, also known as rescue cans or
torpedo buoys, often are used as rescue equipment at waterfronts and surf beaches. Most rescue buoys are made of lightweight, hard,
buoyant plastic and vary in length from 25 to
34 inches. Molded handgrips along the sides
and rear of the buoy allow the victim to keep a
ﬁrm hold on the buoy. Rescue buoys are buoyant enough to support multiple victims.
The ring buoy is made of buoyant material typically ranging from 20 to 30 inches in diameter (Fig. 5-4). A ring buoy with an attached line allows the lifeguard to pull the victim to safety without entering the water. The typical line length ranges from 30 to 60 feet.
Some waterfronts use rescue boards as standard equipment. Rescue boards are made of plastic or...