Fitness requirements for RNLI beach lifeguards operating Rescue Watercraft and Inshore Rescue Boats

TitleFitness requirements for RNLI beach lifeguards operating Rescue Watercraft and Inshore Rescue Boats
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsDr. Reilly, T, Tipton, MJ, Wooler, A, Carter, P, Wallace, S
Conference NameWorld Conference on Drowning Prevention
Date Published09/2007
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationPorto, Portugal
Other NumbersPO-14

­In 2003 the University of Portsmouth recommended fitness tests for RNLI beach lifeguards. These tests did not cover the use of Inshore Rescue Boats (IRB) or Rescue watercraft (RWC). The present project addressed 3 aims:

  1. Determine the most physically demanding tasks involved in operating a RWC and IRB
  2. Measure the external loads associated with the use of these craft
  3. Develop tests to determine if a BLG has the minimum strength/fitness required to safely operate a RWC and IRB.

A questionnaire study of RNLI supervisors and managers (N=10) identified the most demanding physical tasks involved lifting, loading, pulling and launching the IRB and RWC.

The physical demands of these tasks were determined on the beach in Bournemouth and Perranporth, UK. Load cell force dynamometers, as well as mobile data loggers were employed between the BLG and point of contact for the lifting and shifting tasks. Figure 1b shows subjects performing the task of dragging the boat out of the sea with the prop up. The contribution of each subject is represented by each line on Figure 1a. Where the task required two people the contribution of each person was measured. Repeated trials of these tasks were performed by supervisors to ensure the subjects employed the method of best practice. The physical demands were investigated on dry and wet sand.

As potential operators will already be BLG, the tests employ BLG equipment wherever possible and are designed to be carried out on the beach. The resulting physical fitness tests include pulling and lifting the IRB, lifting and holding (for 3 seconds) 25kg containers; and winching the RWC onto the trailer.

Learning Outcomes
  1. The most demanding tasks associated with RWC and IRB operation have been identified
  2. The physical demands of operating a RWC and IRB have been quantified
  3. A fitness test has been developed to evaluate if a BLG has the potential strength required to operate these vehicles