Nav: Home | Inst. | Burs. | Careers
Lifeguards coordinate safe and enjoyable recreation for people at beaches, swimming pools and other bodies of water, through public relations, public education, accident prevention and rescue. They use their knowledge of currents and water safety to control bathers' movements and ensure that they swim in safety.

Should a bather need help, the lifeguard on duty should spot the situation immediately and rescue the bather. If a rescued bather has swallowed a lot of water or is suffering any form of injury, the lifeguard will perform basic first aid and call an ambulance if necessary.

Lifeguards place signs or barriers to warn of dangerous conditions or areas, and make sure users are aware of potential dangers. They may caution people behaving in an unsafe manner and expel those who refuse to cooperate. They are required to report incidents to management or other authorities.

Other duties can include: undertaking basic water quality control and testing procedures; maintaining rescue equipment; caring for lost children; and performing basic administrative duties such as writing reports.

The work is varied and demanding. Lifeguards need to be alert at all times, in all kinds of weather conditions and even if there are no swimmers in the water, their presence is required on the beach or near the water. In summer, they have to sit for long hours while concentrating on the safety of bathers in their area of the water.

Lifeguards sometimes do foot patrols along the water's edge; others are part of a motorized patrol or members of rescue crews that patrol offshore in inflatable rubber boats. Sometimes they are involved in helicopter rescues.

Lifeguards need to maintain peak levels of physical fitness in order to swim quickly to a person in distress and be able to support the weight of the swimmer in the water, who may possibly be struggling. They have to take tests regularly to ensure their fitness and capabilities and participate voluntarily in most life-saving competitions.

They may improve, design and implement new emergency procedures. Lifeguards regularly practise rescue techniques with a team so that they can operate at maximum speed and efficiency when called upon to do so.

Satisfying Aspects
- being able to save someone's life
- the occasional excitement
- teaching someone to swim

Demanding aspects
- working with uncooperative or rude children / people
- working in unpleasant weather conditions
- it is upsetting when you fail to save someone from drowning

A lifeguard should:
- have a high level of physical fitness;
- have excellent eyesight;
- a very strong swimmer
- understand the hazards relating to sea and inland water conditions
- have good communication skills, for example to move groups of bathers to safer areas and make announcements over a public address system
- love outdoor life and athletic activity
- be friendly and helpful
- be alert and able to respond fast
- not squeamish and able to administer first aid
- be able to take quick decisions, especially in a crisis and stay calm

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences, Languages

Training is taken very seriously and most employers in South Africa insist on candidates holding the Basic Lifesaving Award of a Bronze Medallion, and that they acquire the Surf Proficiency Award within months of their recruitment. This examination is laid down by Life-Saving SA for the qualification of beach lifeguards.

Professional life-guards are constantly in training, prior to and often after their duty periods. Certain tests have to be taken regularly to ensure their fitness and capabilities. They normally participate voluntarily in all life-saving competitions, which maintains their high standard of fitness and expertise in the use of various rescue craft employed in the surf.

There are a number of surf life-saving and SA Water Safety Awards that may be acquired, such as the Diploma, Silver Medallion Instructors' and the Examiners' Awards.

- municipalities
- recreational parks
- holiday resorts
- beaches and dams
- town councils of coastal towns
- private lifesaving organisations

Lifesaving South Africa
35 Livingstone Road
Stamford Hill
Durban, 4001
Tel: (031) 312-9251 Fax: (031) 312-5612
Fax2email: 0866 159 716