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We chatted to NSRI’s Head of Lifeguarding Stewart Seini about the recent lifeguard trainers’ course, and an unexpected rescue that occurred at the training venue.

Over the weekend of 13 to 15 May, commercial lifesaving services held its first lifeguard course for trainers for the year and 14 NSRI lifeguards from all over the country attended. “The idea behind the course is to ensure that we have a uniform approach to lifeguard training, as well as to make sure that the standard of our training remains high and in line with international best practices,” explains NSRI’s Head of Lifeguarding Stewart Seini.

The training course consisted of both practical and theoretical sessions that covered engaging with members of the public, emergency medical care, rescue techniques, surf-rescue app training, and general NSRI lifeguarding protocols.

Fitness is key

Friday’s session kicked off with fitness drills and rescue techniques in a pool, which gave the candidates the opportunity to hone their lifesaving skills in a controlled environment. It also gave them the chance to practise rescue techniques using the newly acquired Ruth Lee floating and sinking rescue manikins.

On Saturday, the group headed to the beach, with Big Bay in Bloubergstrand being selected as the training venue. The group arrived to pumping swells – ideal conditions for training, Stewart remarks wryly, adding, “They say a calm sea has never made a good sailor, and the same can be said about lifeguarding as our most challenging rescues have always occurred when the swell has been big.”

lifeguard training

On-the-spot rescue

While the candidates were busy with routine patient rescue drills, a woman ran up to the group and informed them that someone had collapsed on the grass near Eden on the Bay, about 400m from their location. “We immediately called ‘Rabbit’ on our training session, which is the rescue term for ‘Stop all activities immediately, a real-world situation is occurring’,” Stewart explains. “Our standard procedure is to have basic life support medical gear (a medical jump bag, oxygen and an automated external defibrillator or AED) with us at every training session. The lifeguards grabbed their medical equipment and made their way to the casualty. We found a 28-year-old female who was having a reaction to something she had eaten and had collapsed.”

The lifeguards stabilized and treated the casualty under Stewart’s supervision, while NSRI Lifeguard Coordinator Rebecca Carter-Smith contacted her family in the UK to obtain her medical history and then made arrangements for her to go to hospital. Shortly after the casualty was stabilized, the ambulance arrived. “It was amazing to take a step back and watch the lifeguards so focused on their patient treatment,” says Stewart. “The professionalism they showed was seen and felt by all bystanders watching. It really showed what NSRI lifeguarding is all about.” Once the casualty was safely on her way to hospital, the group held a short debrief session about the incident and then went back to their training.

Looking back on that weekend, Stewart is pleased with how the training session went. “The trainers left Cape Town with a renewed energy to share what they had learnt with other lifeguards as well as lifeguards in training in their respective areas. It was ‘mission accomplished’ in terms of what we wanted to achieve with this training.”

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