(As described by the Commonwealth and Royal Lifesaving Society
Lifesaving is both a sport
and a service
, and will be integrated into the next Commonwealth games
. The Royal Lifesaving Society
has a simple programme through which student
s and adult
s may obtain qualification
s and training
is a programme set up for 13-14 year olds which teaches how to recognise situation
s, assess situations and help a little.
adds onto the knowledge gained in Basic Rescue and includes basic rescue technique
s, but emphasises getting help
, rather than helping.
is the beginning of rescue training. Tow
ing of victim
s, EAR (expired air resucitation
) and aftercare
are introduced. The Bronze Medallion student (aged 15+) must be able to competently assess a situation given by an examiner
and safely stabilise a spinal victim
and rescue in-water victims. A pass in a theory
test on respiration
, lifesaving techniques and the heart
is also required, along with a basic first aid
builds on previous knowledge and introduces very little new theory.
Award of Merit
is a large step up. It involves not only rescuing any person given in an examination
, but teaching first aid, EAR, CPR
, search pattern
s and rescue of a spinal victim to untrained bystander
involves a lot of training, skills must be polished, students must react quickly and effectively to situations. A thorough knowledge of the entire lifesaving manual
is necessary to pass the theory exam
is a difficult and highly respected award. The candidate is put in high pressure
situations, and must act perfectly, and know the lifesaving manual inside out.
In an examination rescue, the candidates must be able to answer, having rescued their victims, why they acted as they did, with the examiners second-guess
Basic Theory of Lifesaving
This will apply through all awards, but will cover all knowledge up to Bronze Medallion (after that, a lifesaving manual is required)
Types of Victims
A weak swimmer
will be on an angle, facing shore
, trying to swim.
will be straight up, facing away from the shore, splash
An injured swimmer
will hold their injured part, and wave the other (free) hand, and will face the shore.
An unconcious victim
will generally be face down in the water, and unmoving.
The rescue should not
endanger you (the rescuer) in any way. Help if you can, but make sure you do not over-estimate
your abilities. Assess your fitness
, skills and ability. If you are injured trying to rescue another person, then there could be two drown
of one! If you doubt your abilities, or the situation is unsafe, do not
enter the water. Remember - your safety comes first.
Six Rescue Methods
(These are in the order that you should use when attempting a rescue, and are ranked from least dangerous for rescuer
to most dangerous):
- Reach - reach out with a hand, or extend out with an object. Lie on your stomach for maximum stability.
- Throw - throw an aid or rope to the victim.
- Wade - wade out to near the victim, talking to them. Talk them in, if possible.
- Row - row a boat out to victim and pull them in.
- Swim - swim out to where the victim is, but stop at least 4m away (a victim on adrenaline can launch 4m). Talk victim into shore.
- Tow - having none of the above options, it will be necessary to tow the victim. A non-contact tow (kickboard, T-shirt etc) is preferable to a contact tow (holding onto victim).
Things to think about when you are going to rescue someone
(spinal?), your skill, water depth, how much help is available to you, what can you
tow with, where are you going to exit and enter the water?... can you land a person here?,
assistance of others e.g. bystanders, strength of the current
, are you clothes too heavy for
you to swim properly?, how are you going to rescue the person?, will the rescue put you
in danger, and have you properly assessed the situation for dangers?, are there hazards
the water, and how far away is the victim?
Spend 30 seconds thinking about these things if possible. Your safety is the most important thing.
How can a bystander help you with the rescue?
They can go for help (always say "and come back after you’ve done that", so you know
that they actually did do it!), help in the rescue
and help in the aftercare
. Be polite
asking for help from bystanders.
Swiming Out to a Victim
You have decided to swim out to help a victim... what can you take as an aid?
, T-Shirt, clothes
, anything buoyant
lids, kick-boards... plastic
, an oar
, inner tubing
, a lilo
... basically anything that you think will
help you when towing in a victim.
What order do you rescue victims?
Get the weak swimmer first, and help them by giving them something buoyant to hold.
Next, get the non swimmer, then the injured swimmer. Lastly, get any unconscious
swimmers. This system may seem cruel
, but it is assessing the situation on the likelihood of survival
. You may spend a long time rescuing the unconcious victim at the expense of the other victims, and end up with the rescued victim dying anyway...
When you get close to the victims...
Use the defence position
(come in a sitting position with your legs in front of you so that
you can use these or your arms to push the victim away if they try to grab you and tow
you under), and talk
the victim as much as possible, and explain what you
are going to do. Keep saying helpful and enthusiastic
comments to put them at ease, and
Aftercare in order:
Treat for shock
Get medical assistance
How to treat...
- A blue-bottle jellyfish sting - methylated spirits, watch for shock and allergic
reaction... get medical help.
- Sunburn - Lie the victim flat in a cool, shady place, bathe with cold water and give
cold water to drink. It also helps to put cold wet cloths on sunburnt areas if
- Bleeding - Two easy steps... PE. This is pressure (tie a bandage or piece of cloth
reasonably tight around the wound) and elevation (put the injured area above the
heart, so that not as much blood will be pumped there). If the first bandage is
soaked through, add another on top, and keep adding them until bleeding is
controlled. Do not remove the original bandage.
(It is important to consider these whilst considering a rescue... if it's an electrocution, do you really want to get in that water?
Near drowning, heart attack
, electrocution, head injury, drug overdose
You know they aren’t breathing if there is no rising in the chest
, and you can’t feel any
breath coming from them if you hold your cheek over their mouth and nose
Check the area for danger to you and the victim.
Ask the victim if they’re OK (they could
be sleeping!). Shake gently... no response.
Get a passer-by
to get help and come back
and tell you when they have done that (signal for help).
Put the patient on their back, with
their arms at their sides and you are kneeling next to their head. Have the pistol grip
(or any grip that ensures their mouth is closed and your fingers are not blocking their airway
their chin, a hand on their forehead
, and tilt the head back (chin up) to open the airway.
Check for breathing. Look, listen, feel.
Do two full breaths (mouth to nose), check pulse
, while looking at chest. Make sure you
have blocked the patient’s mouth!
Start breathing every five seconds... in between each breath, look, listen, feel, pulse...
Patient is about to vomit
? Turn patient away from you onto their side. Check their mouth
is clear (don’t let them choke on it!). If not, use two fingers to scrape out anything
blocking their airway.
Resume the resuscitation
position, and continue mouth to mouth.
They’re breathing? Put them in the recovery position
Taken from victim on their back with you kneeling so you are facing their chest
- Cross victim’s far leg over the near one.
- Place the near arm under their back.
- Grasp hips and shoulders, roll them towards you.
- Place upper hand under head, with the head tilted back to open their airway.
- Pull other arm behind victim’s back.
There are advantages to this type of resuscitation (EAR), as there is no chance of
damaging the internal organ
s of the victim, and you might help save their life by keeping
their body supplied with oxygen
until a professional
arrives. Take care with their head when rolling them. This position was also used (recently by a child near where I live) to save the life of a person with alcohol poisoning
Shock and Aftercare
Shock is serious, and comes after or during an accident
. This can actually kill someone.
You must stop bleeding, and dress burns (if possible). Lay the victim flat, but with their
legs raised. Don’t lower the head. Make sure they are not hot or cold. Cover with rug
needed. Don’t give them anything to eat or drink (yes, this includes water, even if victim is dehydrated... get professional help), as if anaesthetic
is needed at a hospital
this will not help. Talk, and reassure all the time, and make sure you handle the victim
Lifesaving is a useful
, and I strongly reccommend it. It teaches life skill
s that can be applied in any situation, and you never know what life will throw at you
... may as well be prepared
I learned that one should always dive if a drowning victim tries to drag you down: If he doesn't see you as a float, he won't try to grab you.