Several years ago and based on the state of lifeguarding as we saw it, we predicted that pool lifeguards would be targeted for civil and/or criminal negligence. Well it seems that our prediction is coming to fruition and as proof we are monitoring a case out of Stamford, CT where 23 year old lifeguard Zachary Stein was arrested as a result of a drowning on his watch.
Lifeguard Zachary Stein was hit with criminal charges for the near drowning of a 5 year old boy swimming at the Chelsea Piers Connecticut pool on August 5th, 2017. The actual charges filed against him were reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a child.
As reported, Lifeguard Zachary Stein was on duty at the “Splash Zone” and while on duty did not notice that the child had dipped under water. It was also noted based on video evidence that he was not distracted but the footage showed that he had noticed the struggling child after the boy had been underwater for up to four minutes. The video also shows Stein pulling the boy out and then rendering aid to the boy.
Since this incident, Lifeguard Zachary Stein has resigned from the pool facility and the facility has contracted Ellis & Associates to handle all lifeguard training as well as auditing going forward.
This is not an isolated case involving a lifeguard who has failed to perform their duties.We have heard reports where pool lifeguards actually called 911 to respond instead of themselves administering CPR. Some even said they did not feel comfortable with CPR or did not know how to perfom CPR. Some have asked bystanders to pull people out of a pool while bystanders actually initiated medical care. Our goal is to bring all of these stories and incidents to the light for all to see. Hopefully people will demand better training and accountability of lifeguards prompting states and cities to raise the bar.
During the past 5 years, we have seen a disturbing trend in which training standards have been dumbed down and the quality of lifeguard candidates deteriorating steadily. There is a perception by young lifeguard candidates that the job is easy. The job of lifeguarding is very serious and now based on this case, lifeguards are being put on notice! Many of our colleagues are saying that it is about time!
While scouring social media, many young candidates are now saying that they don’t want to be lifeguards especially when they will be under so much scrutiny. Will this further impact the national lifeguard shortage? You bet it will but at the same time it will weed out those who think the job is about scamming on the opposite sex while working on that tan. The job of lifeguarding is about saving lives, PERIOD!
As of today there is no regulation however we are calling for the creation of a national lifeguard registry that operates similarly to the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. There needs to be a national standard for lifeguard training and certification. Lifeguards are considered first responders and much be treated as such. It is time they understood that this is not a game.