Training has started to resume at some venues, and, if you are considering restarting, it is vital to follow government guidance and be aware that the decision as to whether training can take place is down to the Operator and the Local Authority.

We wanted to give you an insight into what the new 'normal' might be like when your training sessions resume again, so, we spoke to Ian Ogilvie (NTA 30101133), who ran an Open Water Lifeguarding (OWL) course in Bicester recently. We are pleased to share his thoughts, experience and recommendations:

To start with, Ian simply reviewed the courses' content to establish theory-based modules, the scheme of work was then adjusted, and Ian delivered day one of the course remotely on Google Meet (just another version of Zoom or Microsoft Teams). The first day of the course was delivered as planned, after reflecting although day one was successful, he did feel he could add even more interactive activities for the next course. Be mindful that remote learning should be complemented with lots of interactive activities to keep candidates focused and check learning.

Day two and three took place at a venue, and Ian admitted that he was a little nervous about running a course, but, his anxiety was more due to the changes in the guidance on running courses and assessments rather than the ongoing restrictions of COVID-19. He prepared by reading the guidance document through thoroughly, making notes and double-checking he had everything in place. Be sure to fully understand the guidance to be able to ensure you can follow it at all time.  

On arrival at the venue, the first task was to unpack the car of the essential equipment and additional items he had brought to try and make the course easier. These included: spare gloves, manikins, spare manikin lungs, wipes, IRR masks, additional torpedo buoys and individual hand sanitizers for each candidate. With the additional equipment required, this took longer than previously would have. Be sure to give yourself extra time to set up.

One question Ian wished he had asked delegates before the course commenced was, "Is anyone on the course already in a social bubble, or from the same household?" as partway through the course, it turned out two candidates were and therefore didn't require any of the amendments which would have saved time and equipment. Before the course starts, establish if any candidates are from the same household or in a social bubble, this may make managing the group easier.

In terms of setup for the course, spacing in the classroom was two metres apart to comply with social distancing, and all candidates were required to use the same chair each day. Each candidate was provided with a social distanced square to work in, an adult manikin and one child and baby manikin between two (with spare lungs to change) . When practising first aid, each candidate had to wear gloves and a mask - except those from the same household - and each candidate was issued with expired (but sealed) dressings to apply to their skin.

The paperwork was completed in advance via email, and each candidate was issued with a register, which they kept hold of, until the end of the course.

Then came the assessment; it is important to prepare the candidates for the changes and brief the Assessor as to where the kit is and how the room has been set up. Ian felt the hardest assessment to explain was the second timed swim 20-10 unconscious casualty; explaining why candidates still needed to use torpedo buoys despite the casualty not being able to hold it if unconscious was a challenge!

In conclusion, Ian said he was very glad he'd made the jump and got his first adapted course under his belt and will soon be delivering more RLSS UK OWL courses. For anyone planning to run a course during the coming weeks and months, Ian highly recommends as much planning as possible, and thoroughly reading the guidance document a few times. He found that explaining the changes and adaptations he was making really helped the candidates, the feedback from the candidates was brilliant, they all enjoyed the course and felt they had learnt a lot, once they had got their head around the PPE expectations they felt that it flowed really well. The Assessor was confident that the candidates had reached a very high skill level and were ready for their role as an Open Water Lifeguard.