Operational Strategy of Portuguese Lifeguards Associations in order to prevent drowning

TitleOperational Strategy of Portuguese Lifeguards Associations in order to prevent drowning
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsTadeia, A
Conference NameWorld Conference on Drowning Prevention
Date Published09/2007
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationPorto, Portugal
Other Numbers03-14

­Portuguese Lifeguards Associations implement an operational strategy in order to prevent drowning that follows: prevention, preparation and performance.

Concerning prevention, many quality control tests are made in bath locals (swimming pools and beaches) in order to identify what is being done correctly and what needs improvement; according to international patterns, (10:20 and 10:3), many surveillance plans are created; security inspections in bath locals to identify potential risks for bathers; lifeguards are recruited according to their professional qualifications in Instituto de Socorros a Náufragos and some tests and interviews results; there are procedures to enter and exit duty; it’s made a surveillance reinforcement in special aquatic events; rotation schemes to end up with monotony and give time to lifeguards to rest; gathering contaminated residues; affix posters with security rules and advices for bathers; actions in schools, holidays junior lifeguards camps to younger’s from 8 to 17 years old; rescue demonstrations; security actions for community and register of occurrences.

Related to Preparation, it’s necessary to have professional lifeguard card actualized every 3 years; constant communication with local authorities in order to improve procedures; creation of evacuation ways with medical emergency teams; creation of emergency contacts; creation of radio communication schemes with Civil Protection; creation of a localization plan of rescue equipments; creation of emergency schemes; physical training plans on duty; lifeguards continue formation; maintenance tests to check physical and technical capacity of lifeguards and rescue simulations.

There are nominated supervisors (Head lifeguards) to implement and verify the strategy. They are responsible for organizing periodic reunions with lifeguards and management of aquatic places; annually it’s made an annual evaluation performance report plan to verify things that are good and those who need improvement. And also an annual accidents map.

All these topics are very important, however, we give a special importance to prevention, so it’s requested to lifeguards mainly the surveillance and advices to bathers.

In some regions where lifeguards associations implement this operational strategy, the number of serious occurrences and rescues have been decreasing about 20% each year (Table1), this reveals that this strategy must continue, although in some places it’s not being completely applied due to legislation and economical difficulties, Managers and the Portuguese Govern give more importance to Euros than to quality, that leads to Portugal to have an aquatic insecurity culture. However, lifeguards associations want to struggle against these difficulties and continue implementing preventing drowning strategies.

Learning Outcomes
  1. Research in lifesaving - developing the plan.
  2. Implementing the Total Life Saving Service Plan.
  3. Expanding youth involvement in lifesaving.


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