Being an RNLI lifeguard is demanding both physically and mentally, but above all it is rewarding. The self-development and skills the charity’s lifeguards achieve through their training courses prepares them for the busy reality of guarding the coast around Bridlington and the East Riding of Yorkshire.
Training to be a lifeguard is extensive.
All applicants must undergo a health assessment to ensure they are physically capable of the job. This comes in handy when the trainees must complete a 400m pool swim in under 7.5 minutes as well as 200m run in under 40 seconds.
RNLI Bridlington lifeguard Ben Colling spoke about the challenges of being a lifeguard.
He highlighted the importance of fitness, especially when it comes to caring for casualties, with crash bags weighing a significant amount.
Trainee lifeguards spend a week learning the ins and outs of the RNLI’s terminology as well as undertaking a casualty care course where they learn first-aid and CPR. The casualty care course trains all upcoming lifeguards on how to deal with injuries and illnesses, especially by using first-aid equipment found at the lifeguard units.
Vehicle training is also essential for newbie lifeguards; some undergo an all-terrain vehicle course or a four-wheel drive course.
Training on an inshore rescue boat is also vital as it provides lifeguards will the skills required to operate the boat in the water. The same applies to the use of rescue watercrafts, with the added training of safely and effectively coping in dangerous surf conditions.
These trainee lifeguards experience a series of staged scenarios which lets them put their knowledge to the test, meaning all the lifeguards are raring to go on the first day of the lifeguard season. However, this training does not stop when the season starts. Lifeguards must keep up their fitness throughout the summer by going to the pool regularly to undertake more fitness tests whilst going on runs every day.
“You need to be level-headed because most days you will be in a difficult and busy situation. Being a lifeguard has taught me to remain calm in all situations and take a step back and think before I make any choices.”Ben said.
“Being a lifeguard for the RNLI is rewarding and has many development opportunities. Ben, who is also part of the Filey lifeboat crew, spoke about the satisfaction of helping people.
“I love being in the middle of everything and interacting with people on a daily basis. It’s a very public facing role. It’s challenging of course but being an RNLI lifeguard really gives you a purpose.”
To find out more about becoming a lifeguard, please visit: