The Responsibilities of a Lifeguard

My stomach dropped when I read the headline: “Preschool child in critical condition after a dramatic rescue from Auckland pool.” As someone who trained to be both a pool and surf lifeguard from a young age, I felt a deep connection to this incident. Growing up, I spent countless hours swimming and at the beach with my family, always looking up to the lifeguards. At 14, I started my training, driven by a passion for water safety and a desire to help others.

Both lifeguard qualifications required rigorous training and assessments, including various simulated rescue scenarios. I was proud to pass and become a qualified lifeguard, ready to spend my days between the pool and the beach, enjoying the sunshine. The pool position was paid, while my beach lifeguard role was voluntary, working with my patrol team on summer weekends.

The Reality of a Rescue

The reality of a real rescue is starkly different from simulations. The adrenaline rush is indescribable when you see the wide, panicked eyes of a child in distress. Immediate response is crucial, and suddenly, the responsibility of a life is in your hands. During one incident, I witnessed caregivers chatting poolside, completely unaware of the unfolding rescue. Their lack of active supervision highlighted a critical issue.

amotto lifeguard

Supervision and Safety Policies

Supervision requirements at pools have evolved, reflecting changing social trends. The “pool-alone” policy is now strictly enforced to ensure children’s safety:

  • Children under 5 must be accompanied by a caregiver within arm’s reach and in the water.
  • One caregiver can supervise a maximum of four children aged 5-8.

Despite these policies, accidents still happen. People need to understand that lifeguards are not solely responsible for safety; everyone must take responsibility for their actions. It was reassuring to see the industry’s response to the Auckland incident, emphasising the importance of shared responsibility.

Industry Insights

Campbell Macgregor, Aquatic Manager at Kiwa Pools in Gisborne, eloquently addressed this issue: “Swimming pools have lifeguards because they are a dangerous place. Water is dangerous, and we all forget that our tamariki are our responsibility 100% of the time, as there are eyes that have been employed to keep an eye on everyone.” “This article is a wake-up call that did not end in tragedy. It reminds all whanau that they are lifeguards too, and it highlights the importance of respecting water’s dangers. Please leave your phones at home, jump in the pool, spend time with your tamariki, and enjoy the water, but please treat it with respect.”

amotto lifeguard rescue first aid box
pool lifeguard lifebuoy
Lifeguarding: A Rewarding Career

Despite being young and still in school, I loved my job as a lifeguard. The support from my colleagues, especially the experienced senior lifeguards, created a positive and fun working environment. The aquatic industry has long discussed how to attract and retain more people. Lifeguarding is a great entry point, but it’s crucial to remember that water safety is everyone’s responsibility.

If you’re interested in a rewarding career that involves safeguarding lives and promoting water safety, consider becoming a lifeguard. Not only will you gain valuable skills, but you’ll also play a vital role in ensuring the safety of others in and around the water.

View Our Other Blogs