What they do
Lifeguards look after the safety of people in aquatic environments, such as beaches, swimming pools and some amusement parks. Lifeguards perform a variety of roles in addition to providing rescue services to swimmers in danger. They may also take part in programs to educate the public in water safety, identify potential hazards and take appropriate action to minimise the danger, care for lost children and maintain the condition of rescue equipment.
Most lifeguards work outdoors, in all weather conditions, ranging from extremely hot conditions to cold and windy. Some pool lifeguards work at indoor pools, where it can become very humid. Lifeguards generally work long hours, which includes early mornings, evenings and weekends, and especially during peak seasons, such as the Christmas holidays.
Tools and technologies
All lifeguards, regardless of where they are working, make use of general first aid equipment and wear easily identifiable uniforms (though pool lifeguard uniforms vary between individual venues). Lifeguards working outdoors also require appropriate protection from the sun, such as hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.
When carrying out general maintenance duties, pool lifeguards use water-testing equipment, lane ropes and cleaning equipment. Some surf lifeguards use specialised vehicles to assist in patrolling beaches and carrying out rescues - these include, All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), surf-skis and small power boats. They also use the distinctive red and yellow flags to mark out areas of water that are safe to swim in, and two-way radios to keep in contact with other lifeguards.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become an open water lifeguard you need to hold a current Surf Life Saving Australia Bronze Medallion or Certificate II in Public Safety (Aquatic Rescue), complete courses in Provide Advanced Resuscitation Techniques, HLTAID003 Provide First Aid and pass
To become a lifeguard you need to obtain special certifications from the relevant body.
To become a pool lifeguard you need to complete a Pool Lifeguard certificate issued by the Royal Life Saving Society – Western Australia, and hold a current Bronze Medallion Certificate.
the SLSWA Lifeguard Fitness Standard. You will also need to have a current ‘C’ class driver’s licence (provisional or higher). You may also require a motorised rescue craft licence.
Open water lifeguards require this additional training in order to be able to deal with the unique challenges posed by working in a dynamic and changing ocean environment. Ocean lifeguards also require a high level of physical fitness and are required to undertake a fitness assessment.
Required registration and licensing
To complete any lifeguard training you must be at least 17 years old and hold a Provide First Aid certificate.
To work with children in Western Australia, you must obtain a Working with Children Check issued by the Working with Children Screening Unit of the Department of Communities.