I recently attended the University of Calgary Lifeguard Games. This is a great event that we have supported for a number of years. It provides an opportunity for lifeguards of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels to get together for a day of friendly competition and professional development.
This year, I noticed a new sponsor during the morning pool activities: Toronto-based ALG Safety was on site with the Ruth Lee Lifeguard Training Pool Rescue Manikin. During our lunch break, I hustled out to my car to grab a swimsuit and try this product for myself.
Note: lifeguards don't like to get wet (unless strictly necessary), so this tells you how excited I was about this new product!
From the product brochure:
"This manikin has been designed in consultation with the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS) and is a revolutionary new product which allows trainee lifeguards to learn vital skills. Once thrown into the pool, the manikin quickly sinks beneath the surface and lifeguards can train to retrieve it from the bottom, tow it to the side using a variety of towing techniques, and perfect their lifting techniques - all using one dummy, instead of switching between plastic torsos and live volunteers. "
What follows are short video clips of me trying the product for the first time (no practice), and I summarize my opinions below. I have been continuously certified as a Lifesaving Society National Lifeguard since 2003.
Size: the manikin has a nice heft at 30 kg or 75 lbs of lean muscle mass (no fat to float) and 1.66 M or 5'4" tall (for perspective I am 5'11" and 150 lbs).
Realistic: the shifting plastic pellets inside make it a much more realistic approximation of an unconscious casualty (as a trainee) and much easier to spot poor technique (as an instructor).
Case in point: this is me submerging buddy's airway (mouth) during a wall transition when traditional manikins would stay perfectly upright. You can also have a look at some of the carries in this video (0:18).
Anatomically correct: it has legs! a silicone face with real shape to the nose and cheekbones! It is missing hands, feet, and joints but I don't think that would add anything other than increasing production costs.
Safe: how many times has a candidate slammed a manikin full of water onto their foot or it's gone skidding across the pool deck into someone's shins? Training injuries - to say nothing of damage to pool infrastructure - is not a concern with this mesh product.
Literally the only negative I could come up with is the lack of hard shoulder joint is problematic for me as an instructor because I teach candidates to use armpits as the balancing point (on your toes/foot) as you readjust your grip, prior to removing a victim solo.
However, I can still teach that specialized technique with a real human as it is more of an advanced technique for when a lifeguard has no backup team.
I would hands down recommend this training product to any aquatic facility looking to beef up the caliber of instruction or staff training. Yes, the upfront cost is substantial ($1400 delivered), however I truly believe that this will dramatically improve the capabilities of staff, and continue to be used for many years to come.
- Product brochure
- ALG Safety sales portal
- Manufacturer's promotional video
- Depth retrieval of manikin (5m - Sydney 50m Olympic pool)