ISLA Education and Training Philosophy

“Always Have a Reason for What You Do” – The Why and How of What We Do

Why does ISLA conduct a “Basic” Open Water Lifeguard Course?

The ISLA Basic Open Water Lifeguard Course exists for several reasons.  First, the training is meant to be a crash course in basic rescue for a layperson or volunteer.  The majority of our trainees are not paid lifeguards; they are volunteers with local humanitarian organizations that donate minimal time, employees that have beach related jobs at a hotel or private business (Kite/Surf Instructor, Cabana or Rental attendant, Bar Tender), or are members of the public actively seeking to help make their communities safer. For that reason, this course offers the need to know basic tools of open water safety and lifeguarding in an extremely short amount of time to maximize efficiency and impact.  Lastly, the ISLA Basic Open Water Lifeguard Course serves as a foundation for students to further their own training.


What are the P.R.I.D.E. Themes of the ISLA Basic Open Water Lifeguard Course and what do they mean?

The ISLA P.R.I.D.E. Training Themes are:

Prevention of drowning or injury in any body of water

Recognition of dangerous conditions and hazardous areas

Identification of a person in need of assistance or rescue

Discernment in personal ability to help or call for help

Empowerment to take charge of the aquatic safety situation in the community

ISLA realizes that every situation in any region with any rescuer is going to be different, and for that reason we heavily emphasize the importance of prevention and scene safety throughout the course.  We stress the value of self-awareness, and that knowing your own limits is as valuable as actually making a rescue.  Trainees in the Open Water Lifeguard Course are also stretched (mentally and physically) to limits many of them never knew existed.  They are encouraged to push themselves, and grow personally and as members of a lifesaving team.  Instructors constantly remind the students that the water in their community is their responsibility, and they are encouraged to be (and empower others to be) advocates for water safety and future lifesaving development in their region.


What are the nuts and bolts of the Basic Open Water Lifeguard Course, the actual day-to-day activities that trainees will experience?

ISLA strongly believes in practice-based education, and that doing something is the best way to learn it.  The course does includes lectures on various subjects such as Aquatic Conditions and Hazards, Lifeguard Systems, and Specialty Rescues, but a large part of the pedagogy lies in “on the beach” hands on demonstration and training.   The course also includes extremely strenuous physical events that involve running and swimming long distances.  To see a sample of a Basic Open Water Lifeguard Course Schedule, Click HERE.


Why does ISLA teach and train with and without rescue equipment?

Lifesaving equipment is expensive, and the reality is that in many regions of the world rescue equipment is simply not available.  In the ISLA Basic Open Water Course, we teach trainees to realize rescues with equipment such as fins, a buoy, or a paddleboard, and we also teach techniques that can be utilized in a situation where no equipment may be available.  Most importantly, we stress the extreme danger present when no equipment is available, and give trainees the tools to discern if they can make the rescue safely. We train those who have equipment to be ready to respond with out it, and we train those with no equipment to properly use it with the hopes that one day safety tools will be available in their area.  In ISLA trainings around the world, we have also come to see some impressive improvisations as well.  We strongly encourage the trainees to do the best they can with what they have, may it be a surfboard, a 5-liter water bottle, or a canoe paddle.


Why does the ISLA Basic Open Water Lifeguard Course have minimal First Aid and CPR instruction?

First Aid and CPR training is widely available in most regions of the world through local hospitals, clinics, the Red Cross, and in some cases national education curriculums.  The ISLA Basic Open Water Lifeguard Course has a very limited time to communicate valuable information, and because First Aid and CPR training is widely available; we spend the majority of our time focusing on the aquatic rescue components of lifeguarding.  In addition, First Aid and CPR standards often vary by country and region, and ISLA strongly believes that it is better to teach to local standards in order to better integrate different sections of developing Emergency Medical Systems.