Lifeguards and Liability: Things Swimmers Should Know
A lifeguard is a person who is hired by either a private or public facility to oversee the safety and ensure the proper conduct of visitors while swimming. As these individuals are being paid for their services it is expected by law that they maintain a certain standard of care whenever they are on duty. Failing their duties as a lifeguard may see them, their employer, or both being held legally responsible.
The major portion of a lifeguard’s duties involves constant supervision of the swimming facilities during their scheduled shift. In order to do this effectively they are required to view the area from an elevated post, and it is generally accepted that this post allows them to scan the entire swimming area in less than 30 seconds. This gives the lifeguard time to ascertain whether any swimmers are in distress and to provide emergency services should they need to. During those times when a life guard is participating in other duties, such as swimming lessons, there should be at least one other lifeguard on duty.
Lifeguard training is not required by law but you should expect professional lifeguard companies to be able supply personnel who have reached a certain standard. These standards include:
- Acquired certification in lifeguard techniques and procedures
- Be familiar with the rules and regulations of the facility
- Be able to use the supplied specialized rescue and safety equipment
- Be familiar with emergency action, response, and operation
- Know emergency communication protocols
- Be able to accurately perform risk management and identify said risks
- Obtained certification from the American Red Cross and also undertake monthly practice drills
In the event of death or injury a lifeguard is more likely to be deemed liable should it be found they were not performing their duties adequately, or were lacking in the relevant skills. It is a lifeguard’s duty to remain alert and aware of all the swimmers in their care and so should be able to instantly recognize any signs of distress.
In an effort to improve standards and reduce the number of water fatalities Abu Dhabi have recently launched a system to help certify and develop lifeguard skills. This scheme is purely voluntary but upon successful completion a pool lifeguard will have obtained accreditation in first aid and pool rescue operations. It is hoped that the new system will be a big help in ensuring the safety of everybody using pools or beaches throughout Abu Dhabi.