5 Things I Learnt from Lifeguarding

Hi chums!

I arrived back in London yesterday morning (my stay was sadly cut short because of Hurricane Irma). I had been in Florida since 10th June and was working for Loews Portofino Bay Hotel as a lifeguard.

When I applied for this work program back in December, I had no idea quite what I was signing up for. Sure, the tan was on my mind but I did not think about how intense the training would be and how equally intense the job would be.

1. Training

I started off the summer by doing 3 days of guard class. I was probably naive to think that life guarding would be just about saving someone from drowning. Turns out, life guarding includes everything from spinals to CPR, diabetic shocks to heart attacks, choking baby to labored breathing, etc. etc.

I had to do training on every shift. This could be in-water or out-of-water scenarios. There was so much to remember and now my respect for any life guard has significantly increased!

2. Discipline

Life guarding requires a lot of discipline. For example, every month you have to complete 4 hours of in service (2 classes of 2 hours) and mine were at a convenient time of 5:30 in the morning. Therefore I had to set my alarm to 4:30 in order to get up and I have to say this was so hard!

The training definitely taught discipline. In life guarding time is key. For example, you have 3 minutes to get a GID (guest in distress) out of the water for a spinal and online one minute for a, unconscious GID.

We also had daily VATs. This was when someone would pretend to drown or when someone would drop a child mannequin (Timmy) or a dark mat which was meant to look like a silhouette into the pool. We had 10 seconds to recognise it and 20 seconds to get to it. At first I was so nervous about this because two failed VATs in a month suspends your license but I soon grew used to them.

3. Dealing with difficult guests

On the whole I really enjoyed interacting with the guests, however, there a few angry guests who I had to deal with.

It being summer, there were many thunderstorms and therefore we had to close the pool if it came within 10 miles of the property to ensure our guests safety. This frustrated many of the guests, especially if the storm didn't come directly over the property and it looked ok to be in the pool.

I really felt for these guests as I would be frustrated in their position, however, some took it up a level and we had to remind them that we really had no control over the weather!

Although it definitely wasn't my favourite part of the job, I feel like dealing with these guests was definitely a good experience.

4. Sometimes you have to use your whistle!

If we ever needed to get a guest's attention in the pool we would blow one short whistle. At the pool I worked out we mainly used our whistles when we needed guests to move away from the slide exit so that the next guest wouldn't hit them.

I am not a fan of telling people what to do but I learnt that it's better to blow a few whistles and tell them to move away from the slide than to leave them to it and watch them be crashed into by the next guest on the slide!

5. Life guarding is stressful!

Next time you go on holiday to a pool, check out the amount of adults who like to lay on their backs in the pool and float with their eyes closed, or the amount of children who like to see how long they can hold their breath for, or, perhaps the worst of all, when people float face down in the water in what we call the 'dead man' position. Each of these stressed me out to an extent I cannot even describe because I would think 'this is it, they're drowning, in I go!' and as these thoughts rushed through my mind and I stood up, whistle in mouth, the guest would stand up or lift their head.

This kind of panic did lessen as the weeks went by but it was always a bit worrying and would get your heart beating fast!

All in all I am really glad I tried life guarding out, however, after doing this job for a whole summer I know I definitely couldn't do it full time because it is too stressful!

I met so many lovely people working at Portofino and if anyone is thinking of signing up to do the Cultural Exchange Program through Yummy Jobs I would recommend requesting Portofino as your hotel.

Thanks for reading!

Love as always,


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