Several water safety organizations have attempted to improve reporting regarding lifeguard actions in order to better understand the characteristics of successful, nonfatal rescues. In 2003, a collective effort initiated the Lifeguard Rescue Reporting System, an online survey distributed to lifeguards and facility managers across the United States and Canada to better understand rescue actions performed in pools/spas, water parks, and open water areas. After seven years of data collection, the online survey accumulated data reflecting 1,676 rescue actions, collecting information including location, victim characteristics and outcome, rescuer characteristics and strategies, and other general circumstances. Descriptive results indicated that at least half of victims were 14 years old or younger across all settings. Depths of 0.9-1.5m (3-5 ft) represented the range at which incidents most frequently occurred in pools and spas and waterparks, whereas the depth of incidents was generally deeper in natural and open waterways. During rescue incidents, water safety personnel generally identified victims either visually (83-92% of the time) and/or audibly (18-29%), although victim “profiling” was also employed 10-14% of the time to identify at-risk swimmers. Notably, across all three water setting types, no medical aid was required in most cases (60-72%), suggesting the efficacy and essentiality of lifeguards as aquatic first responders. Accordingly, as water-based recreation maintains its popularity, systematically collecting and analyzing data specific to everyday, rescue actions are critical to improving lifeguard education and strategic, data-based operating procedures.
Citation: Ramos, W. D., Fielding, R., Anderson, K. R., & Wernicki MD, P. G. (2021). The Lifeguard Rescue Reporting System: Survey Results from a Collaborative Data Collection Method. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 13(2), 5.