Published 15 May 2015

A young PE teacher from London has saved the life of one of his swimming pupils just months after completing his lifesaving training from the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK). The news comes as RLSS UK, the UK’s drowning prevention charity, launches its latest dedicated qualification for teachers, coaches and instructors supervising swimming and other pool activities.

Building on the success of the existing RLSS UK National Rescue Award for Swimming Teachers and Coaches course (NRASTC), the new and improved award features the latest skills and techniques on supervision and rescue to help teachers ensure a safer swimming environment for their pupils.

Michael London, a new PE teacher at St Joseph’s College in Upper Norwood, south London, was holding a swimming class when one of his students jumped into the deep end of the pool and sunk straight to the bottom. The 23-year-old teacher, who had only taken up his role at the school in September 2014 after completing his RLSS UK NRASTC award in August, automatically followed his lifesaving training by clearing the pool, jumping in and bringing the student to the surface.

Finding that the pupil wasn’t breathing, London administered the CPR skills acquired during his training for approximately six minutes until the student regained consciousness and started breathing. The student was then taken to intensive care where he remained for a few days.

London has received a Certificate of Commendation from the RLSS UK for his actions.

“I just had to help the student. My lifesaving skills very quickly ran through my mind and I just snapped into action. I’m so glad I had them to be able to help him. It all happened so fast that I can’t even tell how long actually passed. I’m thrilled to accept my award from the RLSS UK,” said London.

The case highlights the importance of up-to-date life saving skills in the education sector. Designed to help teachers and lifeguards to work better together as a team to create a safe swimming environment, the revised NRASTC qualification from RLSS UK covers all aspects of life saving from class management and rescue to CPR and first aid.

RLSS UK took feedback from those who deliver the award as well as teachers who have recently received training to refine the course content and ensure the award is fit for purpose. It also conducted comprehensive pilot studies.

For the first time, the NRASTC course can be integrated with the RLSS UK’s Emergency First Aid at Work and Defibrillator AED qualifications, giving teachers the opportunity to gain more vital skills. 

“It’s imperative that teachers and coaches of any aquatic activity, from swimming coaching to water polo, keep their lifesaving skills up to date. A survey by the RLSS UK of 25 pools found that teachers and lifeguards saved the lives of 74 children in one year. That’s a powerful argument for maintaining life saving skills,” says Alex Blackwell, Head of Vocational Qualifications at IQL UK, the training subsidiary of RLSS UK.