How Do I Become a Rescue Swimmer?

G. Wiesen

To become a rescue swimmer, you should first consider if you want to be a civilian rescue swimmer, such as a lifeguard, or serve as part of an emergency crew with a military unit. If you want to be a civilian rescue swimmer, then you should receive any medical emergency certification, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training, that is required in your area. To become a rescue swimmer for emergency rescue operations, usually as part of a government agency or military organization, you need to join the appropriate organization in your area and qualify for a position as a rescue swimmer.

A rescue swimmer must know how to perform CPR.
A rescue swimmer must know how to perform CPR.

Before you begin training to become a rescue swimmer, you should typically choose what type of rescue swimmer you want to become. If you are interested in working as a civilian rescue swimmer, such as a lifeguard, then you should look for pools, lakes, and beaches in your area in need of rescue swimmers. You can then determine the qualifications necessary in your area to work as a lifeguard, which can vary somewhat among regions. In general, however, you typically need CPR and first aid training to become a rescue swimmer, which you can gain from the Red Cross or a similar organization.

Those who lack training could cause harm if they attempt to administer CPR.
Those who lack training could cause harm if they attempt to administer CPR.

To become a rescue swimmer with an emergency rescue unit, such as the US Coast Guard or a similar military organization, you need to join that group and qualify for rescue swimmer training. This means you need to be in sufficient physical and mental condition to join the military in the first place. Requirements for military acceptance can vary from one country to another, so you should consult local recruiters for specific information regarding these requirements. You should also contact different military branches to determine what organization in your country includes positions for you to become a rescue swimmer.

Rescue swimmers may be employed by the Coast Guard.
Rescue swimmers may be employed by the Coast Guard.

Once you have joined the appropriate military or rescue organization in your country, then you can begin training to become a rescue swimmer. In the US, for example, you should consider joining the US Navy and try to qualify to begin training in the rescue swimming program. This may be easier if you have a background in lifeguarding, including professional work and both CPR and first aid training to demonstrate your abilities as a swimmer. Once you are accepted into the rescue swimmer training program, you need to complete the full program to become a rescue swimmer, which can be both physically and mentally exhausting.

Paramedics will take over life-saving rescue breathing as soon as they arrive on the scene.
Paramedics will take over life-saving rescue breathing as soon as they arrive on the scene.
Rescue swimmers are often required to complete bloodborne pathogen training prior to beginning work.
Rescue swimmers are often required to complete bloodborne pathogen training prior to beginning work.

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