Become a Lifeguard

Lifeguards are in high demand in Greater Victoria. At any given time there is at least one facility hiring. 

Recognized as the standard measure of lifeguard performance in Canada, National Lifeguard education is designed to develop a sound understanding of lifeguarding principles, good judgment, and a mature and responsible attitude toward the role of the lifeguard.

It is important to note for all required course, 100% attendance and active participation is required. There are no exceptions made to age prerequisites. See the steps below for what is takes to become a certifed lifeguard:

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Step 1: Bronze Medallion

Prerequisites: Must be 13 years old by last day of course or have Bronze Star.

Bronze Medallion teaches an understanding of the lifesaving principles embodied in the four components of water rescue education: judgment, knowledge, skills and fitness. 

Rescuers learn advanced lifesaving techniques for challenging rescues of increased risk, involving conscious and unconscious victims in varying water depths. Participants develop stroke efficiency and endurance in timed swims (500 metres). Includes CPR-A.

Instructional Time:  20 hours consisting of both dry and wet sessions.

Recognition: Successful candidates will be issued a temporary certification card on the last day of course. A permanent certification card, badge and medal will be mailed within 60 days. Please contact the Lifesaving Sociaty of BC & Yukon Branch if the temporary card has expired and the permanent card has not been received.

Currency: Bronze Medallion is a ‘lifetime award’ which means that it does not need to be current in order to take further lifesaving training (e.g. Bronze Cross).

If an individual requires a Bronze Medallion for employment purposes (e.g. Sailing Instructor), employers may require it to be current. In this case, it must be current within two years.  The ‘lifetime award’ designation does not apply when used as a vocational certification (for employment purposes).

Evaluation: All skills are taught and evaluated by a current Lifesaving Instructor. Candidates must demonstrate competency on all skills to pass. Evaluation is completed in areas of Water proficiency, first aid, victim recognition and rescue.


Step 2: Bronze Cross

Prerequisites: Bronze Medallion. Must show proof of certification. 

Bronze Cross is designed for lifesavers who want the challenge of more advanced lifesaving training and an introduction to safety supervision.  

Candidates develop proficiency at performing patient assessments, managing aquatic spinal injuries, and preventing the loss of life in a variety of aquatic emergencies, while developing stroke endurance (includes a 600m timed swim) and fitness training skills.

Bronze Cross includes the CPR-C certification and is one of the prerequisite awards for all advanced lifeguarding (National Lifeguard) and leadership (Lifesaving Instructor) training programs. Bronze Cross is also worth 2 Grade 11 High School Credits.

Instructional Time:  20 hours consisting of both dry and wet sessions.

Recognition: Successful candidates will be issued a temporary certification card on the last day of course. A permanent certification card, badge and medal will be mailed within 60 days. Please contact the Lifesaving Sociaty of BC & Yukon Branch if the temporary card has expired and the permanent card has not been received.

Currency: Bronze Cross is a ‘lifetime award’ meaning that it does not need to be current in order to take further lifesaving, lifeguard or leadership training (e.g. Standard First Aid, National Lifeguard or Lifesaving Instructor).

If an individual requires a Bronze Cross for employment purposes (e.g. at a camp), employers may require it to be current. In this case, it must be current within two years.  The ‘lifetime award’ designation does not apply when used as a vocational certification (for employment purposes).

Evaluation: All skills are taught and evaluated by a current Lifesaving Instructor. Candidates must demonstrate competency on all skills to pass. Evaluation is completed in areas of Water proficiency, first aid, victim recognition and rescue.


Step 3: Standard First Aid (SFA)

Prerequisites: None.

SFA is the most comprehensive first aid training program for the general public and is a prerequisite for the National Lifeguard program.

Standard First Aid trains rescuers in the skills and knowledge needed to assess and provide basic life support to patients with airway, breathing, or circulatory emergencies as well as how to manage medical, musco-skeletal and environmental emergencies.

The Lifesaving Society, the governing body in British Columbia for Lifeguard certification, follows the 2015 ILCOR (International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation) guidelines and includes AED training.  This course includes CPR-C certification.

Please note that since December 2012, the Lifesaving Society only accepts pre-requisites for its National Lifeguard program from one of these recognized Canadian agencies: Lifesaving Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation Canada, Canadian Red Cross, St John Ambulance, Canadian Ski Patrol. If a candidate shows up to a National Lifeguard course with a first aid pre-requisite that is not with one of these recognized agencies will not be allowed to continue with the course.

Instructional Time: The recommended course length for Standard First Aid is 16 hours based on a class of 12 candidates.

Currency: Standard First Aid is current for 3 years.

Evaluation: Candidates are evaulated on: princiles of first aid, legal implications of first aid, anatomy & physiology of cardio-respiratory system, personal protective equipment, Bystanders & EMS, patient assessment: unconscious, AED operation, one-rescuer CPR: adult, obstructed airway: conscious adult, obstructed airway: unconscious adult, patient assessment: conscious, respiratory emergencies, circulatory emergencies, critical incident response, one-rescuer CPR: child, one-rescuer CPR: infant, two-rescuer CPR: adult, child & infant, obstructed airway: conscious child, obstructed airway: conscious infant, obstructed airway: unconscious child, obstructed airway: unconscious infant, injury management, medical emergency, skeletel emergency, environmental emergency, and assists & land carries.


Step 4: National Lifeguard

Prerequisites: Bronze Cross, Standard First Aid. Must show proof of certification. Candidates must also be at least 16 years old by the last day of course.

The National Lifeguard® (NL) award builds on the skills, knowledge and values that the Lifesaving Society teaches in its pre-Bronze and Bronze Medal awards to develop the practical skills and knowledge required by lifeguards.

Recognized as the standard measure of lifeguard performance in Canada, NL education is designed to develop a sound understanding of lifeguarding principles, good judgment, and a mature and responsible attitude toward the role of the lifeguard.

Instructional Time: 44 instructional of  water and classroom time (not including breaks). Taught by a current National Lifeguard Instructor.

Recognition: Successful candidates will be issued a temporary certification card on the last day of course. A permanent certification card, badge and medal will be mailed within 60 days. Please contact the Lifesaving Sociaty of BC & Yukon Branch if the temporary card has expired and the permanent card has not been received.

Currency: National Lifeguard is current for 2 years. 

Evaluation and Other Items:  Candidates must:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of the principles and techniques of lifeguarding included in the NL test items, and answer questions drawn from the Canadian Lifesaving Manual (CLM) and Alert: Lifeguarding in Action, including:

  • Explain the role and responsibilities of the National Lifeguard in terms of role-modeling, prevention and rescue.
  • Describe how critical incident stress can impact lifeguards responding to both successful and unsuccessful rescues.
  • Define the legal obligations of the lifeguard in terms of duty and standard of care, liability and negligence.
  • Provide an example of a training activity to improve one component of physical fitness (muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, strength, speed, power or flexibility) as identified by the evaluator.
  • Explain how to adapt emergency procedures for a facility with only one trained lifeguard on duty; how to use auxiliary staff or bystanders; and discuss the value of written procedures as part of the staff manual.
  • Provide examples of regulations that govern workplace health and safety for lifeguards (e.g., WHMIS, Occupational Health and Safety, Worker’s Compensation) and legislation regarding harassment and violence in the workplace.
  • Explain the benefits of oxygen therapy, automated external defibrillation (AED) and oropharyngeal airways.Explain the hazardous nature of chemicals used in aquatic environments and the special training required for their safe handling.

2a. Demonstrate anaerobic fitness and strength for an object recovery: Starting in the water, swim 15 metres and surface dive to recover a 9 kg (20 lb.) object; surface and carry the object 5 metres – all within 40 seconds.

2b. Demonstrate anaerobic fitness and skill for an underwater swim: Starting in the water, submerge and swim 15 metres underwater.

2c. Demonstrate anaerobic fitness: Starting in the water, swim 50 metres head-up within 60 seconds (50 yd. within 55 sec).

2d. Demonstrate endurance and strength for a submerged manikin or victim recovery and rescue: Starting in the water, swim to recover a submerged manikin or victim located 25 metres away; carry the manikin or victim 25 metres – all within 90 seconds (50 yd. within 82 sec.).

2e. Demonstrate aerobic fitness and endurance: Swim 400 metres within 10 minutes (400 yd. within 9:10 minutes).

2f. Demonstrate endurance and strength for a distressed victim rescue: Starting in the water, approach 15 metres head-up to contact a distressed victim in deep water; carry the victim 5 metres supporting the victim’s head and shoulders above the surface.

3. Demonstrate an understanding of:

  • Features that vary from pool to pool (or from time to time) and how analysis of these affects lifeguarding.
  • The role of water treatment systems in providing a safe and comfortable bather environment.
  • Environmental hazards of pools.

4. Demonstrate effective communication with patrons, victims, other lifeguards, supervisors and emergency service personnel.

5a. Demonstrate effective pool supervision using observation skills and scanning techniques.

5b. Demonstrate effective pool supervision using lifeguard positioning and rotation.

5c. Demonstrate an ability to recognize situations in which early lifeguard intervention may prevent a rescue emergency.

6. Demonstrate three entries and three removals appropriate for a pool environment.

7. Demonstrate an understanding of different rescue techniques appropriate for specific pool features and special situations.

8. Demonstrate an effective search of the aquatic facility for a missing person as both a member and a leader of a lifeguard team.

9a. Demonstrate effective management of a distressed or drowning victim in deep water.

9b. Demonstrate effective management of a submerged, non-breathing victim and perform 10 cycles of 30 compressions: 2 ventilations on a CPR manikin.

9c. Demonstrate effective management of a suspected spinal-injured victim:

  • Enter and approach a face-down victim in deep water; roll victim over, immobilize and carry 15 m.
  • With the assistance of one back-up lifeguard and one bystander, manage a spinal-injured victim on land or in shallow water.

9d. Demonstrate effective management of an injured swimmer.

10. Respond to emergency situations as a single lifeguard and as both a member and a leader of a lifeguard team.