California lifeguard agencies are grappling with the ramifications of a new law that’s prompting uneasy questions about the role of lifeguards in public safety.
Title 22 mandates that all public safety personnel, including lifeguards, undergo no less than 21 hours of advanced first-aid training. This goes beyond the instruction that certifying agencies provide to better prepare lifeguards for the pre-hospital emergency medical services they sometimes must perform.
The required training equips them with skills such as administering CPR and AED – things lifeguards typically learn on the job. But it also covers new ground. Approved training curricula also must address hemorrhage control, administration of oral glucose and how to render aid in drug and alcohol emergencies, dental emergencies, amputations and impalements, among others.
Responsibility falls on public recreation programs to provide the training.
Though the law went into effect in April 2015, it allowed a two-year grace period for agencies to implement a training plan. That time has passed, and some aquatics programs are still scrambling to comply.