National Lifeguard - Surf

National Lifeguard certification is Canada's professional lifeguard standard and is designed for lifesavers who wish to obtain a responsible job and leadership experience. Successful candidates are certified by the Lifesaving Society - Canada's lifeguarding experts.

National Lifeguard - Surf certification is designed to develop the lifeguarding skills, principles and practices, and the decision-making processes which will assist the lifeguard to provide effective safety supervision of surf beach environments. It builds on the fundamental values, judgment, knowledge, skills and fitness developed in the National Lifeguard Waterfront certification.

Prerequisites: National Lifeguard - Waterfront certification.

Required reference material: Alert.


Surf 291

Instruction and certification: Current National Lifeguard Instructors teach and evaluate most items, but only National Lifeguard Examiners may certify candidates. The Lifesaving Society deems its certifications to be "current" for 24 months from the certification date.

Candidate recognition: National Lifeugard crest, certification card.



Test Items

  1. *Surf beach analysis: Demonstrate an understanding of:
    • Features that vary from surf beach to surf beach (or from time to time) and how analysis of these affects lifeguarding
    • Environmental hazards of a surf beach
  2. *Entries and removals: Demonstrate a variety of entries with a rescue aid and a variety of removals appropriate to a surf environment
  3. *Skin diving skills: Demonstrate skin diving skills: Wearing mask, fins and snorkel, swim 5 metres at the surface; head-first surface dive and swim 15 metres underwater; surface, purge snorkel and swim 5 metres at the surface.
  4. *† Use of rescue craft: D: Demonstrate effective use of a rescue board or rescue craft: Approach 5 metres on the beach; enter the water with a rescue craft; pick up a victim 100 metres away and return to shore.
  5. Physical standards
    1. *Run swim run: Demonstrate aerobic fitness: Run 200 metres; swim 200 metres; run 200 metres - all within 8 minutes
    2. *† Endurance challenge: Demonstrate aerobic fitness and endurance: Swim 400 metres within 10 minutes.
  6. *Lifeguard communication: Demonstrate effective communication with patrons, victims, other lifeguards, supervisors and emergency service personnel.
  7. Supervision
    1. *Position and rotation: Demonstrate effective pool supervision using lifeguard positioning and rotation.
    2. *† Scanning and observation: Demonstrate effective lifeguard scanning techniques and observation skills in the pool environment.
    3. *Prevention and intervention: Demonstrate an ability to recognize situations in which early lifeguard intervention may prevent a rescue emergency.
    4. :::
  1. *Missing person: Demonstrate an effective search of the aquatic facility for a missing person as both a member and a leader of a lifeguard team.
  2. Victim management
    1. *† Management of distressed or drowning victim: Demonstrate effective management of a distressed or drowning victim in deep water: Run 100 metres with a rescue aid; enter water and swim 100 metres to recover a conscious victim; tow or carry the victim 100 m; provide appropriate follow-up treatment.
    2. *† Management of submerged, non-breathing victim: Demonstrate effective management of a submerged, non-breathing victim and perform 10 cycles of 2 ventilations:30 compressions on a CPR manikin.
    3. *Management of spinal injured victims: With the assistance of one back-up lifeguard or assistant lifeguard and one bystander, demonstrate effective management of suspected spinal-injured victims (breathing and non-breathing) found in the water
    4. *† Management of an injured victim: Demonstrate effective management of an injured victim on land or in the water.
  3. † Lifeguard team situations: As a member of a lifeguard team, respond to situations in a supervised aquatic setting.
  • *Asterisk indicates instructor-evaluated item. The † symbol denotes the only items evaluated during a recertification.