For the first time ever, a National Lifeguard Service course is being offered here that will allow those who pass it the chance to be a certified lifeguard anywhere in Canada.
The 10-week course, which originally attracted a dozen people aged 16 and over (it’s now down to 11), includes 20 hours in the classroom and 20 more in the pool.
The cost for the course was $200.
“What it is is that when you apply for a lifeguard job in the city, you need a Bronze Cross,” noted Leana Moffitt, who is teaching the course at the Sportsplex along with Caryn Legg.
Both became qualified to teach the course, which is expected to be offered here every second year, after passing an NLS instructors’ course in Winnipeg.
“When our guys go to apply for [lifeguard] jobs, they need this course and now this puts them at the same level as everyone else,” Moffitt explained.
“It goes beyond the other courses that they take,” she added. “It gives them more exposure to such things as techniques and first aid.”
Moffitt said the students have become more confident in their lifeguard abilities since taking the course, adding many of them have confided they are much more comfortable in handling certain situations.
“It’s a bit harder course, more advanced,” said Matt Gushulak, a lifeguard at the Sportsplex. “You learn a lot more with this course because there’s so much reading in the classroom and then we learn in the pool.”
Part of that learning process is the fact the instructors allow them to handle a wide range of “emergency” situations, Gushulak said, and then offer advice on how to handle the same situation that much better next time around.
Moffitt said the course deals with specific crisis situations such as someone having a heart attack, an epileptic seizure, or spinal injury.
“What we do is have practice situations where someone might have a heart attack. We let [the students] handle the situation and then we sit down and talk about it,” she noted.
While successful completion of the NLS course is not mandatory to be a lifeguard in Fort Frances, Moffitt said it is “highly recommended.”
And despite the high registration fee, she added it is a good course to have. In fact, she recommended people take the course to upgrade their qualifications.
“It’s worth every penny because a lot of these kids always go out of town to take these courses, and it costs them money to travel there and stay in a hotel,” she remarked.
“It teaches them leadership and furthers their teamwork, first aid, and lifeguard techniques,” she added.