Select were delighted to work with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the charity that saves lives at sea, to investigate the link between the lifeguard preventative actions and beach safety in 2015.
“The findings from the study provide the first known quantitative evidence regarding the effectiveness of prevention activity. The results will be used by the RNLI to strengthen the case for greater preventative activity by our lifeguards.”
RNLI lifeguards patrol over 220 UK and Channel Island beaches. They spend the majority of their time carrying out preventative work (trying to prevent incidents from happening in the first place), including setting up safety flags, broadcasting announcements on the PA system and patrolling the beach offering face to face advice. Given all the effort put into this preventative work, the charity was interested in finding out just how effective it is in reducing the number of incidents its lifeguards are required to attend.
Select were asked to investigate the relationship between lifeguards’ preventative actions and the rates of assistances and rescues they perform. The analysis was performed on the RNLI’s daily lifeguard logs, which are completed by lifeguards every two hours to record information such as the number of people on the beach and in the water as well as the number of preventative actions they have performed.
The relationships between the rates of rescues/ assistances and preventative actions were analysed by fitting statistical models known as generalised linear mixed models. The analysis also accounted for variation between beaches not explained by these variables by including a beach level random effect in the models.
Select found that an increase in preventative actions involving safety signage, warning flags and face-to-face interactions is associated with a decrease in the rates of rescues and assists.
The findings are of interest to the global lifeguarding community and were disseminated at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Malaysia in November 2015. Select are also working with RNLI to produce an article on the study for submission to an academic journal.
Dani Dix, research and data officer from the RNLI’s Operational Research Unit, said,
“RNLI lifeguards are always ready to respond to those who find themselves in danger in the water, but they spend a large amount of their time carrying out preventative work, to help people avoid getting into trouble in the first place. The findings from the study provide the first known quantitative evidence regarding the effectiveness of prevention activity. The results will be used by the RNLI to strengthen the case for greater preventative activity by our lifeguards.”
Further details of the project can be found in an accessible research summary written by the RNLI on the project.