Throughout the United States, public safety agencies provide response to aquatic emergencies in the open water environment, including rivers, lakes, the ocean, and flooded areas. Unfortunately, each year public safety professionals and volunteers tragically lose their lives in the water trying to save others. And if the rescuer dies, the victim may also die for lack of a rescuer. The USLA Aquatic Rescue Response Team Certification Program was designed to ensure adequate, minimum aquatic rescue training and standards for aquatic rescue teams.
USLA's expertise in developing standards for rescue in both the surf and inland open water environments is internationally recognized. We are America's Full Member to the International Life Saving Federation and, since 1981, USLA has promulgated recommended guidelines for open water rescue.
Unlike other aquatic rescue training systems, the USLA ARRT program allows the safety provider to conduct in-house training of its own personnel, using its own trainers, in its own area. USLA does not conduct the training, but rather specifies how it is to be conducted.
The cost of agency certification for a three-year period is $500, regardless of the size of the organization or number of personnel trained. This system is used by some of the most respected public safety agencies in the US. The companion, Lifeguard Agency Certification Program is used by scores of the most respected open water lifeguard agencies in the country.
While this program is not adequate, by itself, to prepare trainees for rescues in swiftwater or ice conditions, it serves as a prerequisite for such training, allowing the agency to select and prepare the most qualified personnel for advanced training. USLA believes that before such specialized aquatic training is provided, the safety personnel so assigned must first have a foundation of strong aquatic rescue skills and knowledge.
To qualify under this system, a public safety provider should review the USLA Guidelines for Training and Standards of Aquatic Rescue Response Teams. This booklet includes an outline of required elements of the training curriculum, minimum standards, and an explanation of the application process. Agencies interested in applying to become USLA certified should then complete and submit an application form.
Download an application form: Aquatic Rescue Response Team Certification Application.(used for new and renewing applicants)
The provider should also acquire a copy of our training and reference text, Open Water Lifesaving - The United States Lifesaving Association Manual to be issued to students in a certified course.