Lifeguard: The Origins

Since the 1800s, lifeguards have been safeguarding the lives and safety of people when swimming first gained popularity as a recreational activity. Based on the data provided by the International Lifesaving Federation, 1.2 million people around the world die drowning every year. The numbers are staggering, considering the widespread availability of swimming and water safety lessons. In an earlier post, we have also shed some light on the truth about the role of a lifeguard in Singapore.

So, how do you become a lifeguard in Singapore?

In order to become a lifeguard, you must first be a proficient swimmer. There is no need for you to possess swimming certificates such as NASSA, SwimSafer or SSPA. Most lifesaving teachers will assess your level of proficiency in swimming and it would be a huge advantage if you are proficient in the breaststroke.

Next, you will have to earn the Lifesaving 1, 2 and 3 certificates that are awarded by the Singapore Lifesaving Society (SLSS). At this stage, you will be equipped with theoretical knowledge of water safety, water and land based rescues and the practical applications lifesaving techniques. These certificates can be awarded concurrently and will serve as the prerequisites for the Bronze Medallion (BM), which is recognised in all Commonwealth countries.

After achieving the Lifesaving 1, 2 and 3 certificates, you will qualify for BM training. At this stage, speed and stamina is key. The practical components are as follows:

  1. Undress (you will be in long sleeved shirt and pants/skirt) and swim 50 meters, then perform clothing tow for 50 meters in 3 minutes 15 seconds
  2. Swim 50 meters followed by a chin tow for 50 meters
  3. Swim 15 meters and tow a submerged casualty to shore in 1 minute 15 seconds, timing stops when you administer the first rescue blow
  4. Initiative exercise where you have to apply your lifesaving knowledge to a scenario set by your examiner

You will also be required to pass a separate CPR test prior to your BM test. There will also be a theoretical component testing your understanding of water safety, rescue principles, survival in water and emergency aftercare.

Upon clearing the BM, you will be eligible to apply for lifeguarding positions. This is subject to in-house fitness criteria and in some cases, you will need to be AED certified. Embark on your journey to become a lifeguard and you will be part of a noble group that safeguards the lives of others.