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York Beach Lifeguard Staff Philosophy
York Lifeguards are required to maintain both a high physical fitness standard and a relationship with the public that results in a safe beach atmosphere. To accomplish these goals the individual lifeguards must remain self-motivated throughout the year and conscientiously work towards improving their skills. The true measure of a lifeguard is how they conduct themselves on the quietest of days in an unsupervised environment. Always take the extra step!
Successful Ocean -Lifeguard Attributes
Arrive at beach and workouts on time and carry out your duties to the best of your abilities, even if you are unsupervised. Always give your best effort.
In the face of adversity keep your composure. Maintain courtesy and professionalism even if the patron you are dealing with is belligerent. This will make your case stronger and win the respect of the public and your coworkers. Never use physical aggression toward anyone. Make certain to know when to pass responsibility for emotionally stressful situations to a more qualified person (I.e. Police Officer, EMT, etc.)
Always use professional vocabulary when you are speaking to patrons or on the radio. They are not beach cops, they are foot officers or bicycle officers. You are a professional representative of this town, how you speak and the vocabulary you use is important to the success of our program.
People are sometimes unaware of our rules and ordinances. Always seek to inform rather than berate. This will ensure better results and a good relationship with the public. Be able to use your better judgement when making discretionary decisions.
Rules and ordinances need to be enforced even when the beach is not crowded. Maintain consistency on quiet days and your job will be much easier on busy days. Be able to use your better judgement when making discretionary decisions. Patrons will capitalize on your inability to be assertive in enforcing our ordinances.
Rescuing a person from the ocean can be a very difficult task. The physical training used in our program is designed to incorporate:
Cardiovascular conditioning - running
Functional conditioning - swimming and boardwork
Transitional conditioning - run-swim-runs and relays
Mental conditioning - rescue scenarios
Next to alertness on the beach your physical ability is your greatest asset.
The strength of our staff is the variety of personalities who work together, form a team, and ensure the safety of the public. The key to teamwork is accepting these different personalities, finding a common ground, and working together to accomplish our goal which is to have a safe well orchestrated beach. "Non-team" personalities will not be tolerated as they have a tendency to demoralize the staff as a whole. If you have a problem, express it to the Ocean lifeguard Supervisor, and we will attempt to rectify it.
You are always dealing with the public. It is important to defy the general stereotype of the lifeguard/beach bum with a rather low Intelligence Quotient. Always try to communicate in a clear and articulate manner.
The unexpected event or situation sometimes demands a unique solution. The ability to think on your feet and adapt to adverse conditions is essential. Like the marines the ability to be a flexible worker and improvise when necessary will make you a better ocean lifeguard.
We define public relations as being your ability to perform your job while interacting with the public in a professional and courteous manner. A good ocean lifeguard can enforce ordinances and keep their beach safe with the least amount of disruption to the atmosphere of the beach. If you can do this well, the public will notice and support you in your effort.
Some days on the stand can be long and frustrating. Always attempt to keep kindness in mind when dealing with the public.
This is one of the most important lifeguard attribute. Don't ever fall asleep or read in the stand! This will result in your immediate termination and invite the scorn of your coworkers and the public.
Knowledge of Beach Stations
Each station is unique and offers a variety of challenges. Be familiar with dangers inherent with each stand and you and your patrons will be safer.
Beach Rescue Techniques
Situations will be handled as outlined in the lifeguard manual and during training week. Open water areas are the most challenging areas to guard and demand precision and consistency. Tasks and scenarios will be exemplified during training week and practiced during workouts to help ensure smooth and safe rescues.
The radios are not for your personal communications. When speaking to dispatch, speak slowly and clearly as they are receiving more than one frequency at once. Be very specific in communicating the situation and the location of the emergency to dispatch. Only call them when it is important. In most cases you will call the lifeguard supervisor or the head guard (I.e. Ocean guard scheduled at Station 3) for advise. Calling dispatch too much will result in complacent responses. If only serious calls are made, then dispatch will be more responsive to our needs. Only use proper radio communication "codes", which will be outlined during training week.
First Aid and CPR
Technical skills are as important as physical skills. Knowledge of proper care will greatly increase a patron's chance of survival once the rescue personnel arrive. Remember that we are the first responders to rescue situations and we often make the difference between life and death.
Related to first aid and CPR, proper emergency procedures are essential in resolving situations and maintaining consistency. Remember that back-up lifeguards will act according to our procedures and will depend on you to do the same. Be sure to always call an emergency rescue team when in doubt of the situation's severity - it's better to be safe than sorry. Always be ready to pass the torch of responsibility onto someone more qualified to hold it aloft.
Chain of Command
Parks and Recreation Director
The Parks and Recreation Director orchestrates the entire Parks and Recreation Department. of which the York Ocean Lifeguard Program is an integral part. We have received the constant support of the entire Parks and Recreation staff and, in turn, have represented this program extremely well. This relationship will not change.
Director of Beaches (I.e. Lifeguard Supervisor)
The Ocean Lifeguard Supervisor (I.e. Director of Beaches) is your immediate supervisor and is responsible for the development and orchestration of the Ocean Lifeguard Program. Any ocean lifeguard issues should matriculate through his supervision. Any issues that are unresolved by reasonable attempts can be forwarded to the Parks and Recreation Director.
The ocean lifeguard program uses a variety of equipment. Take care of it and it will take care of you! Any damage should immediately be reported to the Director of Beaches.
Care and Maintenance: The rescue boards are made of fiberglass. When dropped or bumped against another object the fiberglass is easily damaged, compromising their effectiveness by causing them to take on water. For this reason, please be extremely careful when carrying the board. Each morning the rescue board assigned to your stand should be examined for damage and waxed if necessary. Also ensure that no patrons (children especially, are drawn to the rescue boards) sit on, walk on, or use the board for a picnic table. During times of abnormally high tides, it may be necessary to place the board upon the rocks behind the beach area depending what stand you are on. Be especially careful when placing the board on these rocks as most of the previous damage to the boards has occurred during these maneuvers. At the end of the day the rescue board will be stored in its designated area or returned to its storage facility.
Use: During the day it is important to move the rescue board with the tide to ensure a quick entry into the water. The strength of the rescue board as a lifesaving device is its ability to cover a long distance in a relatively short time. It can be used to retrieve floats, with patrons on them, blown beyond the designated swimming limits and for deep-water rescues on calm days. The board can also be valuable for maintaining in-line stabilization in the event of a spinal injury. However, this is often difficult in an ocean environment.
Issue and Return Policy: Lifeguards will have an individual torpedo buoy, or "torp", issued to them for the season. This is not a toy and should be kept in your vehicle to be used when you are in our service. You may also store them in the central location of Station 3 if you do not have a consistent vehicle that you use to get to work every day. This equipment must be returned at the end of the season along with all other equipment owned by the Parks and Recreation Department to qualify for the training and workout stipend.
Use: While on the beach, the torp should be kept with you at all times. It should also be maneuvered to stand upright in the sand for immediate access. This device should be used for most swimming and rescues, especially those involving short distances and rough conditions.
Care and Maintenance: Every lifeguard will receive a radio at the beginning of the shift and it too should be kept with you at all times except during water entries. The radios are both expensive and fragile. Be sure to keep them free of sand and water. At the end of your shift, be sure the radio is turned off and securely placed in its charger. The red light should be on if it is charging.
Use: Never be without your radio. In the event of an emergency it may be the only way for you to ensure that the proper medical care arrives and that your stand is effectively covered while you deal with the situation at hand. Two channels are available for use.
Note: Never enter the water with your radio. Give it to a trusting patron to hold or to another guard if there is one in the area. One dunk and it is all over for "Mr. Radio."
Channel One: Town Government. This channel is used by various departments within the town. It is also the only way to reach the police dispatcher and the Lifeguard Supervisor. Emergency procedures and proper radio communications will be discussed later.
Channel Two: Lifeguard Channel. This channel is used for the common communications between the lifeguards. This is not for socializing or passing time. Situations which are acceptable for radio use include notifying other guards that you will be "off the air", helping to monitor adjacent and overlapping areas, and for new guards soliciting the council of their more experienced coworkers.
Radio Call Numbers: The following numbers will be used to communicate with your fellow Ocean Lifeguards.
Pick up an item
Out At Call
Out of Service
Going off the air
Back In Service
Available for next Call
Repeat the Communication
Please repeat your communication
What is Your Location
Need a Bathroom Break
Care and Maintenance: Like the radios, the binoculars are an extremely fragile piece of equipment. When cleaning the lenses, use the special cloth provided. Do not use your T-shirt, or your fingers. At the end of your shift, make sure they are placed in your first aid pack and are free of any debris.
Use: Binoculars are effective for identifying debris in the ocean, identifying registration numbers on boats, and observing the fringe areas of your zone. They are not a substitute for an active, mobile guard. Use them to identify a problem and then proceed to the trouble area.
First Aid Packs
Care and Maintenance: Before you take the first aid pack to your stand, make sure that it has all the necessary equipment for a full day on the beach. At the end of your shift, throw away any wrappers or used equipment, and replace what you have used. Restocking your first aid pack will ensure that no lifeguard will have to deny a patron medical care because they failed to prepare for their job.
Use: It is important to maintain coverage of the swimmers while you provide first aid treatment. This is not difficult at a multiple guard stand, but can be a real challenge when alone. Keep the patron between you and the water whenever possible and call back-up during serious situations. Whenever in doubt, suggest further medical treatment.
Policies and Procedures
Training Week and Workout Pay
The pay for both training week and workouts will be paid at the end of the season in a stipend amounting to $350.00. This money will be paid only to ocean lifeguards with a satisfactory employment status for both training, workouts and "last day worked" status for the season served.
Rain or Inclement Weather Policy
The only person with authority to allow lifeguards to leave the beach during regular on duty hours is the Parks and Recreation Director. In the event of rain (a heavy steady downpour):
The Director of Beaches or the Head Ocean Lifeguard on duty will contact Parks Base in order to get authorization for the lifeguards to leave their stations.
Dispatch must then be notified that there are no lifeguards on duty. Each guard is responsible for posting their stand with a "no lifeguard on duty" sign and flying the red flag at their station.
Lifeguards will monitor radio traffic and stay together as a unit in a location close to the beaches throughout the day.
At 4:30 the lifeguards assigned to each station must put the "no guard on duty" signs and red flags away.
If at any time during the day the weather clears all lifeguards are required to report to their stands immediately. Parks Base and Dispatch will be notified that lifeguards are back on duty.
We purchase our ocean lifeguards uniforms that are professional and of a high quality.
Uniforms must be worn at all times by all ocean lifeguards on this staff.
It is not relevant that you do not like the look or the cut of your uniform.
Any deviation from the uniform is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. You will only wear the uniform in the manner in which it was designed.
If you need additional clothing in order to be dry, warm or comfortable, you may do so, but the York Ocean Lifeguard Uniform must be worn over whatever you choose to put on.
This is a non-negotiable policy and failure to wear the appropriate uniform may result in dismissal from the ocean lifeguarding staff.
Lateness is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Be ready to workout at 7:45 a.m. and be on your stand by 9:00 a.m. Lateness shows a lack of concern for your job, the program, your co-workers and the safety of our beaches. It is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
First Late: Ocean Lifeguard Supervisor Warning.
Second Late: Meeting with Ocean Lifeguard Supervisor with chance for
Third Late: Dismissal: We will no longer need your services.
Note: Severe late issues such as not showing up for your stand may result in immediate dismissal.
York Ocean-Lifeguard positions are determined on yearly basis and there is no guarantee of employment for consecutive seasons. Your performance will be subjectively critiqued by the Director of the Beaches in the areas of work ethic, effort, reliability, and professionalism. This is often a subjective process based on empirical experiences as supervision of your performance takes place throughout the season. Follow the procedures outlined in this manual and you will become an outstanding ocean lifeguard.
York Beach Lifeguards are required to be certified in Lifeguard Training, First Aid, and CPR. Each certification must be submitted for documentation and verification during training week. Without your cards you will not be scheduled to work on the beach.
The pay week runs from Sunday to Saturday. Time cards must be filled out on Monday morning and submitted to the Lifeguard Supervisor before 8:00 a.m. This is the ocean-guards responsibility, if you do not fill out a timecard, you cannot be paid for the week.
Incident and Resolutions to Issues
Most water rescues entail retrieving blown floats whose occupants cannot paddle back against the wind. Though common, they can develop into a serious matter if the occupant attempts to leave their float and swim to shore. Therefore it is important to reach the person as quickly as possible. The following list depicts the proper procedure necessary for a successful rescue.
This occurs in two forms; seeing a victim yourself, and being notified of a problem by a patron, fellow lifeguard, or dispatch. These scenarios have occurred in the past, and will likely reoccur. The common rescue though, is viewed by the lifeguard on duty and is the easiest to prepare for. When notified of an incident by another party, the lifeguard has to depend on the accuracy of the account and be prepared for the unexpected. In each case, the choice of equipment could prove essential to a successful rescue.
Choice of Rescue Equipment
Water conditions, position of the victim, and your own position on the beach will determine your choice of equipment. The strengths and weaknesses of the various rescue tools are discussed within this section of the manual, dealing with equipment. Beyond the merits of the equipment, much will depend upon your proximity to your rescue board and the position of the victim. The value of returning to retrieve the board will have to be weighed against the type of rescue, number of victims and the condition of the victim or victims.
Always notify the adjacent guards of your situation and intended actions. This will ensure that your swimmers are watched, your progress will be monitored, and if needed, you will be assisted. Once you have secured the victim, notify the adjacent guards that you are back on the air and in control of your area.
Any incident involving a water entry should be documented in the Ocean Lifeguard Incident notebook. The exception to this is wind-blown floats, and minor duties that have little or no liability attached to them. These incidents, which occur frequently, do not need to be recorded.
Common Medical Emergencies
Heat Stroke: The most serious form of a heat injury. The most important aspects of care include immediately calling for an emergency vehicle, using towels and blankets to shade the victim, and applying a cool, wet towel to the underarm and head area. Always keep the victim's airway open and monitor the breathing process.
Heat Exhaustion: The less serious and most common heat-related injury can be treated again with cool compresses and shading of the victim. Due to the speed with which heat exhaustion can advance into heat stroke, it is best to call for a rescue vehicle to ensure the safety of the individual.
Seizures: Seizures can be caused by many things including drugs, heat, and medical condition. Call for a rescue vehicle, remove any objects surrounding the individual and monitor their breathing. Attempt to find a family member or companion to help identify the cause of the seizure. Crowd control is also a major issue as a seizure can sometimes be quite violent in nature.
Falls: The steps used to access the beach often become slippery and, on occasion, serious falls have occurred. Do not move the individual! Call for a rescue vehicle while reassuring the victim. Often times the individual, or their family, will be adamant that they are all right and do not want assistance. This usually occurs because they are embarrassed by the incident and do not realize the extent or possible extent of their injuries. The emergency personnel are far more qualified to determine a proper course of action.
Neck and Back: Related to falls, these demand the same rescue response. Neck and back injuries have also occurred in the water by diving into on-coming waves and riding waves into a rock or beach incline. The surfing and kayak areas present an increased risk due to the nature of those outdoor activities.
Heart Attacks/Strokes: Though rare, these incidents do occur. Immediately notify dispatch if these conditions are even suspected. Lay the individual down and monitor their breathing. Identify family members for help in identifying prior problems and keep the area clear of onlookers.
Auto - Related: Though rare, these incidents also occur. Two examples are a pedestrian who was struck by a car in the crosswalk behind the bathhouse in 1991, and a bicyclist who fell trying to avoid a car in 1994. Drivers tend to watch the beach rather than the road, so be aware of any commotion on the roads while on duty. This does not mean that you watch the road, just that you are cognizant of the fact that the road can be an area where your skills may be needed. You are responsible for the road area behind your stand and surrounding areas.
Ocean Lifeguard Beach Responsibilities
Ocean lifeguards should get to work early enough and plan for parking their car before they come in for their workout. Parking during July 4th weekend can be competitive, but should not keep you from finding a spot close to your stand.
Each Ocean Lifeguard will be given a parking pass which is to be placed in your car window on the driver's side.
If you park behind your stand and walk to the bathhouse for your workout ,you will then be ready to go onto the beach and will not need to waste valuable time searching for a parking spot.
You may not park where you want just because there is no parking. If you get a ticket for this reason, you will need to pay the ticket and it will not be waved. It is just as illegal for you to park in an illegal parking place as it is anyone else.
Swimmers: Swimmers are an odd bunch. Everyone seems to think they are good swimmers. The problem is that swimming at the beach requires additional skills that pools, ponds and lakes do not require. It is for this reason that we enforce a strict "sand" contact policy for all swimmers. NO ONE is allowed over their heads. This is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make on your beach. Enforce this, and your need to save anyone's life will drop dramatically.
Note: This is not applicable to surfers in the surfing area.
Stand Set Up: It is your responsibility to set up your stand depending on what stand you are scheduled to be on that day. Make certain you are prepared and that your stand is set up and ready to go at 9:00AM.
Stand Appearance Area: The area directly in front of your stand must be kept free of patrons. A clear route to the water must also be maintained. This can be extremely difficult on a busy day when the tide is out, but is worth the effort if a rescue situation occurs.
These should be conducted every 1 ½ to 2 hours. The survey should be done professionally and ocean lifeguards should be alert throughout the survey. This needs to be more than a "coverage area walk". Pick up wrappers if you see them and look for any problems that you might address before it becomes an issue on your beach.
The beach survey is conducted to accomplish several goals.
To ensure the proper administration of the beach.
To show your visibility in large coverage areas.
To make positive connections with the patrons on your beach.
To avert any problems that might grow due to your neglect in completing your surveys
Note: The public loves to see you walk the beach in a disciplined and informed manner. It gives them a sense of security to know that you are not simply an ocean lifeguard that sits on the stand all day "shagging rays."
Professionalism: Everything you do will be scrutinized by the public. Make sure that you only wear lifeguard attire and remain active within your designated area. The conduct of the patrons in your area is a direct result of your abilities as a lifeguard. Set the tone of the beach; be preventive and responsive. Keep talk between lifeguards to a professional manner. Complaints will be made if your language is inappropriate or unprofessional. To avoid these situations keep language clean, respectable, and brief.
Ordinances Pertaining to York's Beaches:
Dressing: Dressing and undressing, and the changing of clothes is not permitted within the limits of the corporation, except in bathhouses or other structures suitable for the purpose. This section does not apply to children under 7 years of age.
Sand and Rock Hauling: It is not permitted to haul sand or rocks away from the public bathing beach areas. (Use discretion.)
Games: The playing of hard ball or soft ball, the game of football or lacrosse, the game of golf, or iron horseshoes is prohibited on the public bathing areas from June 1 to September 15 of each calendar year, except by written permission of the Board of Overseers.
Horses and Ponies: Horses and ponies are prohibited from being on these beaches from May 20th to September 20. except by permission of the Board of Overseers.
Vehicles on Beach: Motor vehicles, bicycles, and motor scooters are prohibited from being on the public beach area, except by written permission of the Board of Overseers.
Aircraft: Aircraft are prohibited from being on the public beach areas, except by written permission of the Board of Overseers.
Sleeping on Beach: The use of the public beach for camping or sleeping is not allowed after 12:00 midnight through sunrise.
Fires on Beach: No person shall build or kindle an outdoor fire on any public bathing area unless such fire is contained in a suitable grill, which is screened, without the written permission of the Chief of the Fire Department or his representatives.
Alcohol on Beach: No person shall have in their possession any container of alcoholic beverage on the public beaches.
Surfing is prohibited within York Beach from June 14th to and including Labor Day between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm EDT except:
In the "Surfing Area" 120 yards (Ocean Lifeguard Station 4)
The Surfing Area may be expanded down to the Sun and Surf at the discretion of the Director of Parks & Recreation (the "Director") or the Director's designee when wave conditions are well suited to surfing and the increased number of surfers warrants such expansion.
Domestic Animals (DOGS):
Sunrise to 8 a.m. Un-leached dogs can be on the beach under voice command of their owner.
8:00 am. and 6:00 pm. No dogs on the beach (May 20th through September 20th.)
6 p.m. to sunrise: Dogs allowed only on leaches.
Boating: No floating craft shall be allowed within a distance of two hundred feet from the public swimming area. (For our purposes, boats will be kept outside of the area.)
York's Ocean-Lifeguard Stations
Station One - Short Sands
Station Two - Cutty Sark
Station Three - Bathhouse
Station Four - Surfing Area
Station Five - Webber Road
Station Six - Harbor Beach
Ocean Lifeguard Individual Station General Information
Short Sands: This is a very tourist oriented beach comprised of many families with small children. The intrigue of the area and playground are the cause of several lost children. Patrolling police officers are very helpful in locating lost children who have wandered off the beach to allow the lifeguards on duty to keep their attention directed to the beach and water. The jetty, which extends out of the left side of the beach, attracts several occupants. No one is allowed to be on these rocks or play around the jetty hole. This is a very dangerous area and at high tide could cause serious injury. Also be aware of kayakers attempting to launch from the left side of the jetty. This is unacceptable.
Cutty Sark: At low tide this area also becomes a huge beach and being a single stand is challenging. Fishermen inadvertently visit the area to the left of the stand in the "corner". Be sure that they stay behind 200 feet of any swimmers. This is also the most popular surfing spot in the mornings. Be strict on the time at which surfers need to move into their designated areas to ensure the safety of the swimmers.
Bathhouse: This section of beach is the area most populated but is also the smallest of coverage. Most of the population is locals and summer residents. This area calls for an increased interaction with the public to ensure safety and occurrences within this highly populated area.
Surfing Area: This is the most challenging area on the beach to guard. It is important to maintain a very strict line between the designated surfing and swimming areas. The two cannot mix or else severe injury could occur. If the ordinance law is not followed a foot officer should be called or a summons rewarded. Although one must maintain vigilant coverage of the surfing area, proper attention must also be given to the rocks around the Sun and Surf.
Webber Road: Although it is one of the least populated areas of the beach it can be one of the most challenging to guard. At low tide it becomes an enormous beach to cover and at high tide the rocks create a challenging surface to maneuver over. The rocks around the Sun and Surf attract many occupants. At high tide no one is allowed on them to reduce the risk of injury.
Harbor Beach: This is a family-oriented beach comprised mainly of local patrons. The small size and calm conditions offer the lifeguard a chance to interact with the public. Take advantage of it. The dangerous areas of the beach are centered on the fringe areas, which are very rocky. Large numbers of children also populate the beach adding to the workload.