Ongoing Program To Test The Vision Of Lifeguard Candidates

A survey performed by VFI in 1995 found that vision standards or requirements for lifeguards were non-existent with the exception of a few municipalities which addressed this issue by using the drivers license requirement as their vision standard. After considering many factors such as essential job functions, risk and safety issues, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with input from other professionals, the staff at VFI established a relatively easily attainable, yet effective, vision standard.

The Park District Risk Management Agency (PDRMA) is dedicated to promoting public safety for over 130 aquatic facilities surrounding the Chicagoland area. Eyesight is an essential component in effective lifeguarding; therefore, as part of PDRMA's continuing efforts in aquatic risk management, they have enlisted the support of the Visual Fitness Institute of Vernon Hills, IL and its director, Ophthalmologist Dr. Barry L. Seiller. PDRMA strongly feels eyesight is an essential lifeguard requirement so they are funding the cost of a vision screening program for their member aquatic facilities.

Seiller said, "after studying the visual implications of this field of lifeguarding for a number of years I concluded that a major portion of this vigilance task is eyesight. However, our research has shown that vision testing is not routinely a part of the pre- employment hiring process. Together with PDRMA we have developed a vision testing program for aquatic facilities."

For the last few years PDRMA has encouraged their aquatic facilities to participate in the vision testing program. Previously, individual aquatic facilities had the option to purchase this inexpensive testing program. "In order to increase voluntary participation this year, we have underwritten the entire cost of this program. This is a small price to pay to improve a lifeguard's ability to see a swimmer in distress" said Brett Davis, Risk Management Services Manager of PDRMA.

Read more: Seeing Things Clearly, By Brett Davis, Aquatics International, April 2005

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