Quite often we are asked to compare our program to those of different agencies.  Some of the other agencies have side by side comparison sheets of their programs with ours and other competitors.  Unfortunately, these side by side comparisons are, for whatever the motivation, quite often inaccurate or very misleading.  One such comparison for example has incorrect statements about our program in approximately 80% of the listed categories.

Making inaccurate statements about either our program or someone else’s is a major ethical issue with us.  To this end and to avoid the ethical problem of making false comments, we choose not to comment on other agencies’ programs.  Instead, we present below some of the strengths of the NASCO program concentrating on those items which are unique enough to distinguish the program.  If the reader wishes information about other lifeguard programs, we suggest you contact the agency in question in order to get accurate information.

While the section below is rather lengthy, it does not contain all of the aspects of the NASCO program but rather lists the highlights.  The reader is encouraged to read the entire section and the Gold Standard at the end of the article.

Strengths of the NASCO Program

Has a clearly stated mission statement that drives all of our activities.  The mission of NASCO is to reduce the loss of life due to drowning

Leads the field in peer reviewed research of lifeguarding

We are one of the few, if not the only, agency that publishes research in peer reviewed journals on our program, on the associated data, and on the results of using our protocol.

Has the smallest documented drowning rate

The last article we published on the results of using our protocols to defend an aquatic facility listed our fatality rate as 0.00635 fatalities per 100K attendance.  The only rate we could find to compare this to was an estimate by CDC that the fatality rate for all pools was 0.6 per 100K.  This yields a NASCO rate that is roughly 100 times better than any other documented rate that we were able to locate.

Has the latest and state of the art procedures included in our protocols including AED’s and O2

NASCO reviews its programs annually and is capable of changing our program very rapidly.  We pride ourselves on being perhaps the most responsive and having the most innovative programs that our research indicates is appropriate.  The fact that our text book is on line significantly reduces the time required for program modifications.

Provides the most inclusive list of programs associated with our mission of reducing the loss of life due to drowning

                  Currently, our course listing include over a dozen courses related to the reduction of the loss of life due to drowning.  The lifeguard courses are linked with an easy an inexpensive means of moving up from a simpler course to a more complex one.  As an example, changing from a shallow water guard to a deep guard only requires that the new material be taught and the fee is just the difference between the two courses.

Has the oldest and most widely utilized “Top Gun” Aquatic Supervisory Leadership Training Program

This course has been in place since the beginnings of waterparks and includes information that beginning aquatic managers need to know.  Emphasizes people management skills along with advanced lifeguarding techniques and is participatory in nature.  Early Top Gun graduates form a significant portion of the emerging leaders in the waterpark industry.

Returning guards can test out after a four hour in-the-water review.  Renewal costs are a fraction of the original certificate cost.

Many facilities test out the returning guards quickly and then use the best of them to assist in teaching new guards.

Has a minimal certificate cost.  There is no text book cost since the text book is on-line and free to all.

Many times agencies list a certificate cost that does not include supplemental issues such as the cost of the text book.  Our certificate costs are low as are our renewal costs and up-grade costs.

Incorporates CPR and first aid in all of our courses and AED’s in all of our lifeguard courses.  Mandates annual lifeguard and CPR training.  Returning lifeguards can renew a certificate for a fraction of the original cost and can test out for renewal.

Our lifeguard certificates expire in one year and we firmly believe that annual recertification is important to incorporate new skills and to practice old ones.  CPR and first aid are imbedded in all of our courses and are tied to the certificate.

The time to renew returning guards is significantly shorter than the time to train for an original certificate in all of our courses.

NASCO lifeguard certificates are facility unique and are only valid in the original facility in which they were trained.

Our clients have the option of including and/or omitting skills to adapt our courses to their environment.  A course modification such as this requires NASCO approval.

A NASCO lifeguard certificate is only valid in the facility which conducted the original course or in another facility owned by the parent organization of the original certifying park.  The intent of this is two-fold.   One reason is to stop the pirating of lifeguards that occurs when one facility pays for the guard’s training and different facility hires them away.  Another reason is the fact that our courses are facility unique.

NASCO requires a minimum of 4 hours of in-service training per month

Skills deteriorate without practice.  Simple skills can be extended after they are mastered in the original course and experience is obtained in the environment.

NASCO places a major emphasis on victim recognition and scanning in its lifeguard courses

Our landmark paper on victim recognition and scanning was published over 10 years ago as an invited paper in a peer reviewed journal.  We have always felt that these two concepts are central to safe guarding an aquatic facility.  These concepts are emphasized in our training programs.

NASCO requires our clients to furnish summary rescue statistics at the end of the season and in-depth reports on critical incidents within days of occurrence.  These statistics are reviewed, summarized and presented at the end of each year.

NASCO requires lifeguard inspections, the number of which depends on the size of the park. 

The lifeguard inspections are based on sound human factors and statistical work sampling methods

                  The sections will require a whole day for medium to large size parks and a half day for smaller facilities.  These inspections will leave the park with the average scan time of all of the positions and will identify difficult areas to see or potential blind spots.  The inspections will also comment on the performance of the lifeguards in fulfilling all of their duties including not only scanning and victim identification but also on dispatching, appearance, posture, and following accepted practices.

NASCO has a very intense and professional facility inspection program.

NASCO inspects numerous facilities and hundreds of slides each season.  Our inspection team includes a licensed engineer and the inspection is what is known as a wall to wall inspection in that it covers most of the facility.

NASCO has a world-wide recognized accident investigation service.

NASCO has investigated incidents in almost all of the major facilities and waterpark chains in the US and several outside the US.

NASCO provides litigation support to the entire waterpark industry as well as to our clients.

NASCO has an annual international aquatic safety school.

Our clients are required to send at least one person a year to this school.  In addition, NASCO has conducted this school in several foreign countries.

NASCO has a complete and very comprehensive risk management program that is integrated throughout the lifespan of the facility.

We work with a facility from the design concept all the way through operations.  Our publication, A Waterpark Primer, was developed to assist facilities which are just including advanced elements into their aquatic program.  It is a “must read” document for new waterparks.

NASCO programs have been used in numerous countries other than the US.

There is only one standard for the NASCO facilities

NASCO does not use artificial distinctions of facility performance to judge or rate facilities.  We have only one standard, called the Gold Standard, and facilities are either satisfying this standard or striving to do so or else they not a good fit for the NASCO program. Click Here To View The NASCO Gold Standard.

NASCO considers itself a partner with its clients in safeguarding the facility

Other than the gold standard, NASCO does not mandate facility performance.  Our role is to help the facility to become safer by measuring performance and advising the facility.

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