The smell of sunscreen and sounds of whistles resonate on the pool deck during the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center’s twentieth annual Summer Recruitment Training for lifeguards.
Originally beginning in 1998, the four week training teaches, trains and tests candidates who were accepted into the recruitment training after a formal interview and swim test.
“There are multiple parts to the training: lifeguard training, city policy and procedures, Title 22 (emergency response), customer service training, as well as chemical balancing if candidates are of age,” explains Nelson Vasquez, Aquatics Supervisor of the Aquatic Center.
Serving nearly two-hundred and fifty thousand patrons each summer, lifeguards are then placed to work at one of the 8 public pools across the Santa Clarita Valley.
“We have so many programs. We love to offer swimming classes, water polo, swim team; and we do it all in-house. We don’t contract instructors out,” says Vasquez. “Its very special that we train our candidates and we teach them additionally. They’re not just lifeguards, they’re teachers, instructors, customer service representatives and without them we wouldn’t be able to do anything.”
During the training, the candidates are tested on not just their knowledge of First Aid, CPR and emergency response, but also their decision making ability, customer service and pool knowledge.
In addition, trainees go through a series of hands-on water rescues and extractions that allows them to practice real life scenarios.
“We are very proud of the candidates, and for most of these candidates, this is their first year, their first time working and it’s nice to see them come into our facilities and taking such a cool profession of being a lifeguard and being interested in public safety,” tells Vasquez. “I love that they chose a career here, which can last them a lifetime. We have lifeguards that go on to do better things as doctors, and in police and fire, and it makes me feel great, because of the training they received here, it might further their aspects in their career or in their life.