About the Open Water Emergency Rescue Award

The Open Water Emergency Rescue Award is designed to assist you in responding to an emergency within an open water environment. Any staff member can use it to rescue and provide first aid, and it is suitable for staff who would support the lifeguard team.

In addition, this award is an excellent foundation for becoming a lifeguard and completing the RLSS UK Open Water Lifeguard (OWL) qualification. You can find further information on becoming an Open Water Lifeguard at www.rlss.org.uk/owl.


The Open Water Emergency Rescue Award course is open to anyone who is 16 or older at the date of assessment and be able to:

  • Swim 100 metres continuously on your front
  • Jump/ dive into deep water
  • Submerge under the water confidently

Course Content

The course is 12 hours in duration and is deliverable in two days. Topics covered during the course include:

Module 1 – The Emergency Rescuer’s Role, Environment and Hazards
Module 2 – Responding to an Emergency and Taking Action
Module 3 – CPR and First Aid


To achieve the Open Water Emergency Rescue Award, candidates must pass an ongoing assessment throughout the course in the form of theory and practical assessment.


Open Water Emergency Rescue Award renewal candidates may renew their award within the validity period of their existing award as stated on their certificate. To requalify, candidates will need to complete the course and assessment as a new candidate. 

Approved Prior Learning (APL)

In some circumstances, candidates may be able to show evidence of prior achievement to exempt themselves from sections of the course. Exceptions may apply to holders of the following awards and qualifications [guided time credits are shown in brackets]:

Current RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) [6 hours]
Current Regulated First Aid Certificate or Occupational First Aid Certificate [4 hours]
Current Regulated Emergency First Aid Certificate [4 hours]

Where candidates wish to claim a training exemption, they must provide the course trainer with original qualifications before the start of the course.

You can claim a maximum of six hours of accreditation for prior learning.

Book on a course

To find your nearest Open Water Emergency Rescue Award course, visit our Course Finder or email us for more details at [email protected].

Next steps

After completing the Open Water Emergency Rescue Award, the next step is to complete our RLSS UK lifeguard qualifications, including the Open Water Lifeguard (OWL) qualification. You can find information on all the courses we offer by clicking here.