How to Become a Surf Lifeguard
Becoming a surf lifeguard is a serious choice. Unlike lifeguarding at a pool the varying water conditions and hazards, as well as an unlimited number of people accessing public beaches, means you may encounter tougher rescue situations and be responsible for watching over more swimmers than a occupancy capped pool. Certification in surf or ocean lifegurding will include training for open water rescues and emergency medical response as well as assisting the public with general information, lost children and enforcing beach regulations.
Step One: Research the Surf Lifeguard Organizations
One of the best places to find a list of all the surf lifesaving organizations in the USA is the United States Lifesaving Association which has a list of all the member associations and a link to each. Most specific associations will list their recruitment dates including application cut off times and certification testing. A number of organizations are part of the City or County infrastructure such as Los Angeles Fire Department or the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, so they will have a very formal hiring process even before the training.
You may find that the Chief Lifeguard is a firefighter and/or EMT professional so be prepared for a boss who knows exactly what is needed from their employees in regards to behavior and attitude to minimize any life threatening situations.
Understand each organizations application processes, restrictions (age requirements) and training programs, make sure you are aware of all deadlines to apply and the training you will have to undergo before starting the job.
Step Two: Get Training
Obviously ccean and surf lifeguarding will require you to run on sand and swim through waves, which is a different skill set to being able to quickly run on hard pavement and swim to the other end of a pool.
You should get comfortable with being able to get through breakers and also swimming in rough conditions. See out guide to "How to swim in open water" for more information.
Running on soft sand can be a lot more strenuous than running on pavement. Make sure you are comfortable running in bare feet and understand the best method for tackling running in sand
Step Three: Enroll in a Certification Course
- Basic Lifeguard Training
- CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer
- First Aid