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Red Cross Designates New Professional Lifeguard Certification for Extreme Shallow Water

Announcement Coincides with Launch of Two New Programs to Aid Waterpark, Parks & Rec Safety


The American Red Cross today announced the designation of a new professional lifeguard certification for extreme shallow water and the launch of two new programs that are designed to increase safety at facilities employing lifeguards.

The new Red Cross Aquatic Attraction Lifeguarding course trains lifeguards specifically guarding attractions in extreme shallow water, defined as three feet or less. This includes winding rivers, catch pools, slide runouts, water play areas and slide dispatch. The Red Cross is the only aquatics training provider to offer this type of instruction and this particular designation of lifeguarding.

The need for a new designation was first identified by the Red Cross Aquatics staff in response to inquiries from waterpark customers. “We’ve seen huge growth in extreme shallow water attractions, which means a need for lifeguards who are trained to act with speed and confidence in emergency situations specifically occurring at these kinds of environments,” said Catherine Barry, Director of Aquatics Product Development at the Red Cross. “As the market leader for lifeguard training providers, we emphasize both swim and rescue competency requirements and now, skills specifically tailored for waterparks and shallow water attractions.”

Specific to the Aquatic Attraction Lifeguarding course are adjustments to skills for water that is three feet or less, including a simple assist from any direction; handling passive victims who are either on the surface or submerged; and removal from the water on a backboard. First aid training places emphasis on caring for head, neck and spinal injuries that are could be common in extreme shallow water accidents. The course also includes all of the content of our Waterpark Skills module so there is no need to take the additional module.

Like other Red Cross lifeguarding offerings, lifeguards must demonstrate full water competency to qualify to take the course. For Aquatic Attraction Lifeguarding, this means that potential lifeguards must pass a water competency prerequisite sequence test as well as conduct brick retrieval at three feet. Lifeguards who successfully complete the course will also receive first aid, CPR and AED certification.

The 22.5-hour Aquatic Attraction Lifeguarding course will be available in January 2015. The cost to the facility per lifeguard, $35, is the same as other Red Cross lifeguarding courses.

The Red Cross is also launching a one-time Explorer package as part of its Aquatic Examiner Service (AES) program. The AES program, unique to the Red Cross, assists aquatics facilities in ensuring that they meet or exceed Red Cross lifeguarding standards and that the facility is prepared for emergencies. The program includes a comprehensive lifeguarding operations assessment, followed up with multiple unannounced site visits that include lifeguarding observations and skills evaluations; with optional aquatic emergency action plan drills and in-service training.

The scaled-down Explorer package allows aquatics facilities to test the AES program with an abbreviated, one-time operational assessment. This assessment includes observation of staff performance while they conduct surveillance as well as team skills scenarios. At the end of the in-person visit, the examiner provides an immediate assessment that includes recommendations and goals for improvement.

“Our clients tell us that third-party audits are critical to maintaining a high standard of quality supervision for their guests,” said Stephanie Shook, Senior Project Manager, Aquatics, at the Red Cross and National Director for the AES program. “This new package allows facilities who are curious or who may not have budgeted for the larger program the opportunity to identify ways to increase water safety at their locations.”

Both the full AES program and the Explorer package are available now. Costs are based on number of sites, number and type of services selected and geographic location.

Although more than 3,400 emergency room visits in 2013 resulted from injuries suffered at public waterslides, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, “most visitors to the nation’s 1,200 water parks remain safer due to the skills of the lifeguards and the vigilance of waterpark staff in ensuring safer operations,” said Barry.

Additional details about the Red Cross Aquatic Attraction Lifeguarding course and Aquatic Examiner Service can be found by contacting a Red Cross Aquatics representative. A listing of Aquatics representatives by state can be found at

Red Cross Public Affairs, Phone: (202) 303-5551,, FOR MEDIA ONLY

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.


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