Nassau County Lifeguard Certification Program

State: NY Type: Model Practice Year: 2017

:
Nassau County Department of Health
:
Nassau County Lifeguard Certification Program
Name of Practice: The Nassau County Lifeguard Certification (NCLC) Head of Agency/Organization: Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, M.D., MPH, F.A.C.P The County of Nassau is a suburban county on Long Island New York that is located to the east of the New York City borough of Queens. The County is comprised of two cities, three towns and 64 incorporated and more than 60 unincorporated hamlets. In total the population of Nassau County is approximately 1.36 million with whites representing 73%, African Americans 11% and Asian Americans at 7.6%. The median age of residents of Nassau County is 41.1. Public Health Issue: Can the lifeguard watching your loved ones perform their duties? The Nassau County Department of Health recognized that there was a need to regulate and standardize the process for certifying lifeguards capable of working at the pools and beaches under the regulatory authority of the Health Department. Specifically, there needed to be a mechanism to ensure that lifeguards possessed the certifications and training that confirm that a lifeguard is capable of performing their duties at the highest possible level. Nationally there are numerous private agencies/providers that have historically provided the training necessary to be a lifeguard, but the Nassau County Department of Health discovered numerous examples of lifeguard candidates that possessed the required certifications yet were found to be lacking the skills needed to provide the highest level of bather safety to the residents of Nassau County. Fraudulently obtained lifeguard certifications were found, examples of lifeguard candidates participating in no show testing, abbreviated training sessions that did not cover required skills and lifeguard training classes that did not meet the required skills testing requirements of Chapter 1, Subparts 6-1 (pools) and 6-2 (bathing Beaches) of the New York State Sanitary Code (NYSSC). Goals and Objectives of the proposed practice: The goal of the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification (NCLC) program was to provide a system of checks and balances that would ensure the lifeguards serving in Nassau County are fully capable of performing their duties at the highest level. How was the practice implemented? Require lifeguards in Nassau County to be Nassau County Certified. Assemble a group of experts with; knowledge of all things related to lifeguarding, familiarity with the operation of the local pools and beaches, and the NYSSC. Develop and establish prerequisites for the testing of candidates to seek out the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification. Develop procedures for the testing of qualified lifeguard candidates. Establish an infrastructure for the processing and testing of lifeguard candidates. Develop and establish procedures for securing qualified Lifeguard Examiners to conduct testing of lifeguards. Develop and establish Quality Assurance Procedures. Results/Outcomes: All individuals seeking to serve as lifeguards in Nassau County must successfully pass the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification test. Approximately 1800 lifeguards are tested on an annual basis with approximately 1650 ultimately obtaining their certification to serve as a Nassau County Lifeguard. An average of 7 -10% of the candidates seeking to become a Nassau County Lifeguard are not successful in passing the rigorous requirements to become Nassau County certified lifeguards despite already being in possession of credentials from other certifying agencies that would permit them to serve as lifeguards in numerous other locations outside of Nassau County. Much of the success of the programs is based upon the identification of the need to ensure that lifeguards serving in Nassau County were fully qualified and the dedication of numerous stakeholders/partners in public health willing to work with the department of health to create a model lifeguarding certification program.
Problem/public health issue: The proper supervision by qualified lifeguards is critical in providing the highest level of bather safety possible. The undistracted supervision of bathers by fully qualified lifeguards can help significantly reduce the risk of drownings and other serious incidents at pools and beaches. The implementation of the Nassau County Lifeguard certification program has been used to address an important public health issue by ensuring that lifeguards serving in Nassau County are fully qualified to perform their duties. Target Population: The target population of the Nassau County Lifeguard certification program is the nearly 450,000 households (representing in excess of 1.36 million people) that make up Nassau County, their guests, tourist, business travelers and so forth that utilize regulated pools and beaches throughout the county. In total the lifeguard programs looks to provide Nassau County certified lifeguards at all Nassau County facilities requiring certified lifeguards under Chapter 1, Subparts 6-1 & 6-2 of the NYSSC for swimming pools and bathing beaches respectively. In total, 100% of facilities in Nassau County required to provide lifeguards as defined by the NYSSC* are currently staffed by Nassau County certified lifeguards *Private, single family swimming pools or beaches are exempt from NYSSC lifeguarding requirements. What had been done in the past to address lifeguard certification? Historically the Nassau County Department of Health relied solely on Chapter 1, Subparts 6-1 & 6-2 of the NYSSC to determine acceptable lifeguard certifications and skills requirements and training needed to serve as a lifeguard. Whenever issues arose as to the legitimacy of a lifeguard's credentials the Nassau County Department of Health would need to conduct an investigation that often involved other parties such as the American Red Cross and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). Although the Nassau County Department of Health has always received the full support and cooperation from these parties, these investigations were frequently very time consuming and at times unresolvable, leaving doubt as to the validity of the lifeguard credentials. No mechanism existed that would allow the NCDOH to tests a lifeguards level of proficiency. What would such a test include and who would conduct it? Why is the current practice better? Jurisdictions throughout the United States have historically recognized a number of outside providers of lifeguard training as acceptable to meet the skills requirements for lifeguarding. The Nassau County Lifeguard Certification (NCLC) program takes those nationally recognized standards for lifeguarding a step further by requiring all lifeguard candidates seeking to work in Nassau County to first secure those recognized certifications as a prerequisite” to applying for a position as a lifeguard in Nassau County. The lifeguard candidate would then be required to pass a rigorous Nassau County performance test that acts to verify that the lifeguard candidate truly possess the skills needed to serve as a lifeguard. It adds a Quality Assurance” component to the testing and certification of lifeguards that had been lacking in the past. It provides the NCDOH, the lifeguard employers and the bathing public with the assurance that on day one, a lifeguard is fit to perform their duties. Is the current practice innovative? By taking existing, acceptable standards for the training and certification of lifeguards to the next level, the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program has completely changed the way lifeguard training and certification is conducted in Nassau County. Prior to the development of the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program there was no way that the NCDOH could fully determine that a lifeguard was in possession of all the required skills and training to serve as a lifeguard. By requiring lifeguard candidates to pass a written and pool performance test conducted by Nassau County Certified Examiner's, the NCDOH has instituted a series of checks and balances (Quality Assurances) that helps to ensure that lifeguards serving in the county of Nassau are fully prepared and capable to serve as a lifeguard. The process of testing and certifying lifeguards in Nassau County has been recognized by the New York State Department of Health by including the Nassau County Lifeguard Certificate on their annual list of approved aquatic certifications for New York State Bathing Facilities. The historical 7 - 10% failure rate of lifeguard candidates that are already in possession of nationally recognized lifeguard certifications is proof that the Nassau County lifeguard program has been effective in; verifying lifeguard skills and training, ferreting out potential false credentials, and providing the highest possible level of bather supervisory safety to those individuals that participate in bathing at Nassau County regulated facilities. The NCLC program took existing practices for the certification of lifeguards and augmented it by providing a mechanism that ensures beyond any reasonable doubt that the lifeguard serving in Nassau County possess the credentials, skills and training needed to protect the bathing public in Nassau County. The NCLC creates a Quality Assurance” step to the process of becoming lifeguard certified, that confirms that a lifeguard candidate is fully qualified to serve as a lifeguard. It removes the need to investigate questionable credentials and standardizes the process all lifeguards must follow in order to work as a lifeguard in Nassau County.
None
Goals and objectives of the practice: The goal of the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program was to provide a system of checks and balances that would ensure that the lifeguards serving in Nassau County are fully capable of performing their duties as lifeguards at the highest possible level. What did the Nassau County Department of Health do to achieve the goals and objectives and what role did stakeholders play in planning and implementation? In order to discharge with optimum effectiveness in the developing of a lifeguard certification program, the Nassau County Department of Health reached out to the five (5) main municipal governing entities that make up Nassau County (Stakeholders/partners). The purpose was to establish an Advisory Committee” on recreational water safety that would; establish standards for lifeguarding, establish the rules and qualification to become a lifeguard examiner, and create procedures for testing of lifeguard candidates. The committee was originally designated as the Advisory Committee on Water Safety and is here foreknown as the Nassau County Water Safety Advisory Committee (NCWSAC). The final makeup of the NCWSAC included the Nassau County Department of Health and the five (5) municipalities (Stakeholders/partners) mentioned above which include: 1) The Town of Hempstead 2) The Town of North Hempstead 3) The Town of Oyster Bay 4) The City of Glen Cove 5) The City of Long Beach The final community stakeholders/partners to serve on the NCWSAC, are representatives from the American Red Cross and the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums. Together the members of the NCWSAC brought many years of experience related to; general recreational water safety, lifeguarding, rescue equipment, facility procedures and operations, training, emergency response, victim recognition, first – aid, CPR as well as the institutional knowledge of the bathing facilities located throughout Nassau County. Together with the Nassau County Department of Health, the members worked to create criteria for; lifeguard testing, prerequisites for applicants and the establishment of separate and distinct lifeguard Grades that could serve the variety of bathing facilities located in the County (i.e. pools, calm water beaches, ocean beaches, camps). The NCWSAC meets a minimum of four (4) times per year, encouraging; all members to contribute topics for discussion, adjust to the changing demands of the communities we serve, respond to current issues/concerns and keep abreast of all issues relating to lifeguarding and recreational water safety. E-mail correspondence between members of the NCWSAC, the Nassau County Department of Health and the Nassau County Chief Examiners occurs on a frequent and regular basis allowing all stakeholders/partners in the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program to be kept informed and updated on the latest issues. I) Qualifications were established for appointment to the NCWSAC, they included: a) Candidates must be employed by the nominating municipality/entity making the request in a position involving recreational water safety. b) Candidates must be a Chief Examiner in the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program, or have similar acceptable qualifications. II) Requirements for application to serve as a Nassau County Chief Examiner” of lifeguards were developed requiring: *** a) A cover letter from the sponsoring agency (stakeholder/partner requesting the nomination as a Chief Examiner. b) A professional resume listing at a minimum all employment relating to lifeguarding, a list of current certifications such as American Red Cross, CPR and any other certifications related to lifeguarding and recreational water safety. c) Any prior experience pertaining to the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program. d) Six seasons experience as a lifeguard. e) Three of the above seasons to have been supervising a minimum of twenty-five (25) lifeguards, the last three (3) years of which must be consecutive and immediately prior to the date of application. f) Assist with conducting at least three (3) group test of lifeguards. g) Conduct at least one (1) group test under the supervision of one or more representatives of the NCWSAC. h) Approval by unanimous consent of the NCWSAC. III) Requirements for lifeguard certifications were established: Any person to be employed as a lifeguard at a bathing beach or swimming pool, under the jurisdiction of the Nassau County Department of Health, must first possess an appropriate current lifeguard certification issued by the American Red Cross or a New York State Department of Health approved equivalent. A current medical examination is required before testing for any Nassau County lifeguard Grade. The medical exam is valid for one (1) year only from the date of the medical exam. The qualifications and requirements for lifeguard certification are as follows: a) Grade IA – (Swimming pool and preliminary requirements for Grades II & III). Applicants must be at least 16 years of age at the time of the test. All applicants must possess an American Red Cross Basic Lifeguard Certificate or a New York State Department of Health accepted equivalent. Applicants must also be in satisfactory medical condition and have vision of at least 20/40 in one eye, without corrective lens. Hearing loss in either ear cannot exceed 25db between 500 and 2000 Hz, 40db at 3,000 Hz and 45db at 4,000 Hz. The medical examination must be attested by a registered physician or nurse practitioner. The performance test will consist of: (1) Entrance into the water with a standard shallow dive, followed by a minimum speed test in freestyle swim of 50 yards* in 35 seconds or less, (2) An endurance swim of 200 yards* in continuous crawl style in good form (body must be planing the water continuously), within 3:45, (3) Front surface approach for 25 yards, followed by an alternate cross chest carry of a struggling victim for 25 yards, (4) Front and back head hold escapes, (5) 15 yard approach with a piece of equipment (torp or rescue buoy), place equipment on victim and return to starting location, (6) Surface dive in a minimum of ten (10) feet of water to retrieve a ten (10) pound weight and bring it to the surface, (7) Witness a demonstration of handling neck and back injuries in shallow and deep water, (8) A written test on lifeguarding. Must receive at least 80% on the test (the questions come from the American Red Cross Lifeguarding Textbook, which can be obtained online http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/lifeguarding/lifeguard-preparation/lifeguard-manual or in person from the Nassau County Red Cross, 195 Willis Avenue, Mineola, NY. 11501. The Nassau County Chapter of the American Red Cross can be contacted at 516-747-3500. b) Grade IB: - (Swimming pool only). Same as the Grade IA requirements except for the medical requirement, in which the applicant can achieve 20/40 in one eye with corrective lens. The performance test is the same as above, except in the 50-yard swim, the applicant can complete the swim within 40 seconds. Grade IB lifeguards may not advance to the Grade II or Grade III certification without meeting the requirements of a Grade IA lifeguard. c) Grade IR: - (swimming pools of small size or at day camps). Same as Grade IB except there are no specified time requirements for the 50 and 200 yard swims. Both swims must be completed in good form as judged by a Nassau County Chief Examiner. d) Grade II: - (Calm water bathing beach). Possession of a current Nassau County Grade IA lifeguard certificate or a satisfactory completion of the requirements and performance test for a Grade IA certificate. The Grade II test must be taken within one (1) year of the date of the medical examination and within one (1) year of the date of the date the Grade IA certificate was issued. The performance test will consist of: (1) A 50 yard run and entry into the water with a 100-yard approach with a piece of equipment (torp or rescue buoy), carry the victim back to shore using the cross chest carry with the equipment, remove the victim from the water using a walking assist, (2) Surfboard rescue – 25-yard entry, 100-yard approach, place victim on the surfboard, return to shore, remove victim from the water using a walking assist. e) Grade III: - (Ocean bathing beaches). Possession of a current Nassau County Grade IA lifeguard certificate or a satisfactory completion of the requirements and performance test for the Grade IA certificate. Grade III test must be taken within one year of the date of the medical examination and within one year of the date of the Grade IA certificate was issued. Completion of a New York State Department of Health approved ocean lifeguard training course or acceptable equivalent**. The performance test will consist of: (1) A 400-yard freestyle swim with a piece of equipment (torp or rescue buoy) with entry into and exit from the water in good form, (2) Single person rescue with equipment (torp or rescue buoy) – 25 yard entry, 100 yard approach swim, return to shore, remove victim from the water using a walking assist, (3) Surfboard rescue with a 25 yard entry, 100 yard approach, place the victim on the surfboard, return to shore, remove victim from the water using a walking assist. f) Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): CPR for the Professional Rescuer (American Red Cross) or a NYSDOH accepted equivalent [please reference NYSDOH annual fact sheets at] https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/camps/docs/cpr.pdf Are required to be a lifeguard in New York State. CPR certificates a valid for one (1) year from the date of issue regardless of what may be printed on the certification. All ocean beach lifeguards are required to be certified in the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Note: Possession of either Grade IA or IB certificate will satisfy the minimum requirements for lifeguards at all swimming pools under jurisdiction of the Nassau County Department of Health. A Grade IR will satisfy the minimum requirements for lifeguards at all pools that are less than 2,000 square feet in surface area and less than five feet in depth. A Grade II certificate is acceptable wherever Grade IA, IB, IR or II are required. A Grade III certificate is acceptable wherever Grade IA, IB, IR, II or III are required. All Nassau County lifeguard certificates are valid for a period of three (3) years from the date of issuance. The lifeguard certification must be renewed no later than one (1) month after the expiration date. Failure to renew the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification by this date and failure to possess a current American Red Cross Basic Lifeguard Certificate or NYSDOH acceptable equivalent will require candidates to retake the American Red Cross Basic Lifeguard Certificate or NYSDOH acceptable equivalent prior to re-certifying as a Nassau County Lifeguard. All lifeguards are subject to retest, without notice, at any time and place subject to the discretion of the Nassau County Department of Health. Failure to pass such retest will result in revocation of the Nassau County Lifeguard Certificate for the remainder of the calendar year and require the lifeguard to retake and pass a performance test in the appropriate lifeguard Grade.. A lifeguard shall be subject to a one-year suspension if any application or certificate has been subject to misuse or falsification of information. For quality assurance reasons, all lifeguard performance tests are subject to random, unannounced audit by any member of the NCWSAC. Chief Examiner's may only conduct sanctioned performance tests by notifying the lifeguard office at least 30 days in advance of the proposed test date. Only those lifeguard candidates that have been processed by the lifeguard office and are in possession of a valid lifeguard test card issued by the lifeguard office may be tested. Under no circumstances may a performance test be conducted without the presence of at least two (2) or more Nassau County Chief Examiners. Any start up or in-kind costs and funding services associated with this practice? As structured from its inception, the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program required a minimal financial investment and remains to this time, largely cost neutral. This is mainly due to the following: a) Members of the NCWSAC are already under salary to their respective representing agencies. b) In general, the Nassau County Chief Examiners serve in a voluntary capacity and those Chief Examiners not serving in a voluntary capacity are already under salary to their respective representing agencies (stakeholders/partners). c) The use of facilities to conduct performance testing, whether it is an indoor or outdoor pool or a bathing beach is done with no cost to the program. The participating municipal entities that represent the members of the NCWSAC (stakeholders/partners) provide their facilities free of charge to the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program. d) The need to pay individuals to act as victims' during performance test were negated by requiring the lifeguard candidates themselves to fill those roles as needed. e) The roughly $10,000 cost to purchase the lifeguard processing equipment such as ID card printers and computers was fully offset by a $35 processing fee charged to each lifeguard candidate at the time of their application to be processed for the lifeguard performance test (1800 candidate's X $35 = $63,000). f) The fee for the three (3) year lifeguard certification has subsequently risen over time to the current fee of $100, which covers most of the costs for staff and equipment to operate the lifeguard office (1800 X $100 = $180,000). g) Number of lifeguards processed annually remains 1700 – 2000, resulting in a consistent revenue stream to support operations. *Whenever lifeguard performance test are conducted in swimming pools that are measured in meters, NCWSAC approved conversion charts will be utilized. **As part of the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program and in conjunction with the NCWSAC a curriculum was developed for Surf Training” which was approved by the NYSDOH. ***It should be noted that many of the Nassau County Chief Examiners are serving on their own time, on a voluntary basis.
Objective: To ensure with the highest level of confidence possible that lifeguards working in Nassau County possessed the skills and credentials needed to serve as a lifeguard at the nearly 800 pools and beaches located in the County. The Nassau County Department of Health's goal was to create a lifeguard certification program that would require all lifeguards working in Nassau County be in possession of a Nassau County Lifeguard Certification. Objective - To assemble individuals who are expert experts in the field of recreational water safety. Performance measure Baseline qualifications were established; nomination of qualified candidates was requested from the respective participating entity (stakeholders/partners); resumes and interviews were required. Candidates needed to possess knowledge of the New York State Sanitary Code(NYSSC) for bathing beaches and pools. This process resulted in the creation of the Nassau County Water Safety Advisory Committee (NCWSAC). Objective Identify individuals that could serve as Nassau County Chief Examiners to conduct lifeguard performance tests. Baseline qualifications to be a Chief Examiner were established. Performance measure Baseline qualifications were established by the NCWSAC and requirements for Nassau County Chief Examiners were created. Those individuals identified as meeting the baseline qualifications were contacted and asked to submit a resume for consideration. Interviews were conducted and an initial group of ten (10) Chief Examiners were ultimately accepted to serve. Objective Establish testing procedures for lifeguard performance test. Performance measure - In cooperation with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the American Red Cross and utilizing the aquatics skill requirements set forth in Chapter 1, Subparts 6-1 and 6-2 of the NYSSC for pools and bathing beaches a Nassau County lifeguard testing and certification program was developed and approved by the NYSDOH. This testing was comprised of both a performance/skills in water test as well as a written test. This approval allowed Nassau County to issue lifeguard certifications' that would be acceptable to allow individual to serve as a lifeguard in Nassau County. Subsequent approval by the NYSDOH recognized the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification to be acceptable throughout the State of New York. Objective To identify and secure facilities suitable to conduct lifeguard performance testing. Pools needed to be long enough and deep enough for candidates to be properly tested in the skills needed for their particular certification Grade. Calm water and ocean beaches needed to identified that would allow for candidates to be properly tested in the skills needed for their particular certification Grade. The cost needed to utilize either type of facility needed to be as low as possible. Performance measure Working with the members of the NCWSAC, over a dozen facilities were identified as suitable for testing. Working with the municipalities that these facilities represented (stakeholders/partners), the NCWSAC was able to secure the use of all the needed facilities free of charge. Objective Ensure that a sufficient number of lifeguard performance test in the appropriate Grades were available. Performance measure Utilizing known lifeguard statistics, the Nassau County Department was able to make what turned out to be a very accurate estimate as to the demand for test dates. In fact, there are no known cases of any lifeguard candidate seeking to be certified as a Nassau County lifeguard that was not accommodated in a reasonable amount of time. Objective Pool and beach operators and both existing and perspective lifeguard candidates needed to be informed of the new requirements to possess a Nassau County Lifeguard Certification in order to serve as a lifeguard in Nassau County. Performance measure Notification were made to all bathing facility operators, lifeguard trainers, lifeguard employers and the general public of the requirement to be a Nassau County certified in order to serve as a lifeguard in Nassau County. Objective To analyze the results of the practice. Performance measure Over the course of approximately nine (9) months the Nassau County Department of Health conducted unannounced inspections of all bathing facilities (pools and beaches) under regulatory control of the Department. In total, a review of inspection data found a 95% compliance rate with the newly created Nassau County Lifeguard Certification. The remaining 5% were brought into compliance within the next three (3) months. Historically, it is extremely rare to ever find a non-Nassau County Certified lifeguard working at a facility in Nassau County required to have certified lifeguards.
The Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program was created in May of 1969. Since its inception over 90,000 lifeguards have been certified to serve as Nassau County lifeguards and over 150 individuals have served as Nassau County Chief Lifeguard Examiners. In the Spring of 2013, for logistics reasons the processing of lifeguards was transferred to the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums. Although the physical processing of lifeguard candidates is no longer performed by the Nassau County Department of Health, all other aspects of the program remain under the control of the Nassau County Department of Health. The NCWSAC and all Chief Examiners work for and report to the Nassau County Department of Health. The Nassau County Department of Health remains the liaison with all other concerned agencies (i.e. NYSDOH, American Red Cross) on all matters relating to lifeguard certification. All stakeholders/partners remain dedicated to the continued and effective operation of the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program as evidenced by the more than 47 years of continued and successful operation of the program. Whether it means securing facilities to conduct performance tests, nominating new/replacement Chief Examiners or maintaining the smooth and continuous operation of the NCWSAC, the stakeholders/partners have demonstrated a continued and reliable dedication to the success of the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program. The stakeholder/partners use the quarterly meetings of the NCWSAC to provide input and feedback on all aspects of the lifeguard certification program and recreational water safety. The lifeguard written and performance tests are modified as needed to keep pace with changes to the NYSSC and or most common practices of the profession of lifeguarding. Stakeholders/partners help recruit candidates in their communities via e-mails, brochures, newsletters and mailings. They reach out to local civic leaders, high schools and religious institutions to encourage age appropriate (16 or older) individuals to consider training to serve as lifeguards. The Nassau County Department of Health conducts annual inspections of all of the regulated bathing facilities in Nassau County. Through these inspections the Department is able to ensure that all lifeguards serving at these locations are Nassau County certified. The fact that the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification has been required for nearly five decades has for all practical purposes made it standard operating procedure for the bathing facilities operators. As such it is extremely rare to discover a non-Nassau County Certified Lifeguard employed as a lifeguard at a regulated facility in Nassau County. The stakeholders/partners remain as dedicated today as they were from the inception of the Nassau County Lifeguard Certification program nearly 50 years ago. They are often the driving force behind innovation and change to the process of certifying lifeguards and constantly demonstrate in words and deeds their full commitment to the future of the program
NACCHO Website|Colleague in my LHD