First Aid needs assessment and the RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification

First Aid needs assessment and the RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification

HSG 179 outlines that first-aiders may need additional training in, for example, treatment of drowning or use of a spine board and defibrillator. This document also states that ‘the training undertaken by pool lifeguards will generally cover or surpass that required under the first aid regulations where the lifeguard attends regular ongoing training and competency assessment’.

The RLSS UK NPLQ covers all elements of Pool Rescue Techniques (including drowning and spinal cord injury management), Lifeguarding Theory, First Aid and CPR. The course is physically demanding and will include swimming to set times, lifting casualties and diving to the deepest part of the swimming pool. Training and assessment for the NPLQ is in three sections and all must be successfully passed to attain the qualification.

Section 1 – The Lifeguard and the Law, Swimming Pool Supervision
Element 1 – The Lifeguard and the Law
Element 2 – Swimming Pool, Hazards and Control Measures
Element 3 – Swimming Pool Supervision

Section 2 – Intervention and Rescue and Emergency Action Plans
Element 1 – Intervention and Rescue
Element 2 – Rescue of a Casualty with a Suspected Spinal Injury
Element 3 – Emergency Action Plan

Section 3 – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, AED and First Aid
Element 1 – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Element 2 – First Aid
Element 3 – Automated External Defibrillation (AED)

The following link outlines the more details of the RLSS UK NPLQ 


RLSS UK guidance - maximum poolside working times and lifeguard rotation

Maximum poolside working times

To help lifeguards remain alert and to maintain a good level of supervision at all times, the RLSS UK

recommends that:

No one on duty at the poolside for a long time can be expected to remain alert. RLSS UK

recommends that you spend no longer than 60 minutes at the poolside and in exceptional

circumstances, no longer than 90 minutes in the pool hall itself.

Lifeguard rotation

Regular rotation between lifeguard positions of 15, 20 or 30 minute period (set by the pool operator) may also assist the lifeguard to remain alert.

The above guidance can be found in the RLSS UK publication (The Lifeguard) element 3 page 75.


Lifeguard Zone Visibility Test (LZVT)

Many pool operators will complete a LZVT to work out the best position for lifeguards to manage swimming pool hazards and to ensure high visibility of zones for lifeguards. A LZVT carried out for each type of session will identify the appropriate lifeguard positions and may impact on lifeguard numbers where blind spots or poor visibility have been identified.

 Purpose of a LZVT

  • To ensure lifeguard(s) have 100% visibility within their zone (full volume of pool water from top to bottom with no blind spots).
  • To identify or review lifeguard positions (including use of high chairs or standing) and numbers.
  • To be used as part of the Risk Assessment process to consider possible additional control measures e.g. lighting, blinds, glare film and technology.
  • To use findings to update the PSOP and lifeguard induction.
  • To ensure that the 10:20 principle is followed.

How to carry out a LZVT

When carrying out a LZVT it is advisable to involve the lifeguard team to gain the most comprehensive results and feedback. This also has the added benefit that lifeguards will learn the importance of their lifeguard positions and zones and understand how these are identified.

Equipment required

  • Floats or similar items to mark out the pool to create grid reference that mirrors the plan of the pool
  • Plan of the pool with grid reference and with the current lifeguard positions marked
  • Submersible manikin – preferably skin colour
  • Rope to move the manikin
  • Lifeguards
  • High chair if applicable

For best results complete the LZVT at different times that would include:

  • When there is normal daylight hours
  • When there is artificial light conditions being used
  • When there is different session(s) in the pool e.g. lane swimming or inflatable session
  • When there is pool features on / off where applicable e.g. leisure pool

How to complete an LZVT

  • Mark out the pool in 2m²
  • Position the manikin in each square and record if the manikin is visible from current lifeguard position (s)
  • Ensure that the manikin is visible within the whole 2m² area – this is especially important when the area is along the poolside
  • Record the findings on the plan of the pool
  • Complete the exercise for each area identified within your entire pool

Action / Outcomes

Once the LZVT has been completed it may have identified areas where 100% visibility of the lifeguard zone has not been achieved. If this is the case then corrective action will need to occur that either results in:

  • Lifeguard positions being changed to ensure 100% visibility of their zone
  • Additional control measures are put in place to ensure 100% visibility of their zone

Once 100% visibility has been achieved then record the completed LZVT within the PSOP to show that each lifeguard zone is 100% visible. It is advisable to detail:

  • Date and time of completed LVZT
  • Who completed the LZVT

Once the PSOP has been updated then it is recommended that re-training and competency checks of staff occur prior to any changes to lifeguard positioning or any additional control measures are put in place.

The visual below gives an example of how lifeguard positions and zones can be inserted into an NOP.


Sample Ongoing Training and Competency Assessment (OTCA) for Pool Lifeguards

The RLSS UK have produced a sample OTCA for pool lifeguards that is available to all its Approved Training Centres who are able to train and assess the RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification.

The sample OTCA for Pool Lifeguards has 6 session plans of two hours each with supporting lesson plans. The full document contains the following:

A. 6 session Ongoing Training and Competency Assessment Plan

Comprehensive scheme of work detailing content for sessions 1-6 that include:-

  • The lifeguard, swimming pool and supervision
  • CPR, AED and First Aid
  • Intervention, Rescue and Emergency Action Plan

B. Session Plans

Lesson plan for session’s 1-6 giving comprehensive detail on how to deliver content linking with each facility’s site specific Normal Operating Procedures and Emergency Action Plan

C. Incident matrix

Selection of early and later intervention incidents to be used in sessions 1, 3 and 5. Incidents include the use of the whole team i.e. Duty Manager, receptionist and plant engineers etc. Blank form to produce site specific matrix.

D. Attendance registers

Register and competency record for lifeguards attending Ongoing T&C.

E. Individual Ongoing Training and Competency Assessment Record

Individual Ongoing T&CA record for each member of staff who carries out lifeguard duties Produced automatically by T&CA online database

F. Ongoing Training and Competency Assessment Managers Wall Chart

Wall chart for managers displaying Ongoing T&CA records for all staff who carry out lifeguard duties and National Pool Lifeguard Qualification expiry dates and date of induction completed.

G. New starter and return to work Competency Assessment

Lifeguard Competency Assessment sheet for any prospective new employee who holds a current NPLQ or for an employee who is returning to work after an absence greater than one month.

The content of the six session plans are detailed below:
(click on the images to enlarge them)