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Swim to Survive

Get Dressed, We're Going Swimming

In June 2015, the City of Nanaimo and School District 68 partnered with the Lifesaving Society to pilot the Swim to Survive+ program. On a beautiful sunny day at Westwood Lake, 27 Grade 7 students from Forest Park Elementary were the first in BC to participate in this new Public Education initiative. Not only did the students have fun, they learned skills that may one day save their life.

Thanks to the success of this pilot program, 2016 marks the official launch of Swim to Survive+ in BC. We are pleased to announce that the first recipients of Swim to Survive+ School Program Grants have been selected. This Spring 1100 students from Ladysmith, Trail and Nanaimo will be getting dressed and going swimming!
What is Swim to Survive+?
Swim to Survive+ builds on the skills of Swim to Survive and fosters good judgement to help participants stay safe around water. Participants learn to:
  • Perform the Swim to Survive Standard while clothed:
Roll entry - Tread water 1 minute - Swim 50 metres
  • Help a friend who falls into deep water without putting themselves in danger
  • Complete a fitness swim
What is a Swim to Survive+ School Program Grant?
Swim to Survive+ grants are available to assist in providing 3 in-water and 3 classroom Swim to Survive+ lessons to Grade 7 children during school hours. Grant funds may be used to help defray the costs of:
  • Transporting students between school and the pool
  • Aquatic instructor costs
  • Aquatic facility rental costs
The Lifesaving Society aims to reach as many BC and Yukon Grade 7 students as possible with Swim to Survive+ training. Because grant funds are limited, the Society is relying upon the generosity of participating school boards, pools and their partners to support this program with matching service and in-kind support.

Thanks to the generous support from Telus, the Province of British Columbia and the Recreation Foundation of BC, grant funds are now available for Swim to Survive+. For more information please contact Krystyna Domes at the Branch Office.
Apply Now for Swim to Survive+ School Program Grants

Public Education

WaterWise Team Wins Best Boating Safety Initiative at the CASBAs

Ontario Power Generation Best Boating Safety Initiative: WaterWise Boat Safety Team
The Water Wise Team of Sienna Joyce and Maddy Steinwand travelled throughout British Columbia delivering key safety messages in 2015.  Whether working in tandem with other groups or policing agencies, attending community events, media interviews, using social media or going hands-on in the classroom, their focus on boating safety and drowning prevention was WaterWise Wisdom in action. The program, managed by the Lifesaving Society of BC and Yukon, has completed 16 great seasons and continues to expand its reach. (Photo Source -


Adult Lifesaving Program

This spring the West Vancouver Aquatic Centre is pleased to introduce a brand new 3-in-1 Adult Lifesaving Program (ALP), geared specifically towards adults (19 years+).

The ALP is ideal for anyone considering a career in aquatics, for firefighters looking to enhance their resumes, or anyone currently working in or around an aquatic environment.

Successful candidates will be certified in:

  • Bronze Medallion
  • Bronze Cross
  • Standard First Aid/CPR-C/AED

Candidates must be at least 19 years old and able to swim at least 100 meters continuously.

What makes ALP unique is the extra hands-on time built into the curriculum, for participants to work on swimming strokes and skills to improve their efficiency in the water.

Upon completion of the ALP, candidates will have all the necessary prerequisites to enroll in the National Lifeguard Pool course needed to complete their lifeguarding certificates.

This course will be taught by Branch Trainer Karen Hillmann and will cover three courses in a condensed format making it a one-stop-shop for your lifesaving courses!

To register, please contact West Vancouver Aquatic Centre at 604-925-7270 or 

Is there an exciting lifesaving program or initiative happening at your facility or community? If so, we would love to feature it in an upcoming edition of the Lifeliner. Contact Krystyna Domes for more information.


Holly Harris and Hugh Ormerod Receive Silver Medal for Bravery

It was an April day last year that started as any other normal day with a beautiful drive from Terrace to the small community of Kitwanga for dental therapist Hugh Ormerod.  But just before noon he heard a health centre co-worker yell, “Someone just drove into the river!”  Hugh jumped up from his operator’s chair and was quickly joined by co-worker, Holly Harris.  They ran out the front door to the river bank and saw a vehicle on its roof partially submerged in the river.
Holly went to the driver’s side while Hugh approached the passenger door.  He noticed a person sitting on the edge of the river bank with an obvious head wound holding his arm, conscious but disoriented.  Hugh determined that person was less of a priority than those in the river as he now saw a set of legs protruding from the vehicle.
Entering the river in roughly knee-deep water, they could now see a young man trapped upside down between the back seat and the seat rest with his head and chest under the water.  The first attempt to extricate him was unsuccessful, so Hugh removed a few articles and yelled at Holly to help him.  Holly had been busy assisting the driver, who had been trapped upside down in her seatbelt.  She now had the woman out of the vehicle sitting on the river bank.
Holding onto the man’s belt, Hugh instructed Holly to grab his jeans around the ankles and they slid him from the vehicle, removing him from the water while supporting his head and neck.  He was unresponsive, completely rigid from head to toe, bleeding from his mouth and nose and his pupils were fully dilated.  He inhaled deeply, projected something from his mouth and stopped breathing.
First responders were now on scene packing oxygen tanks, spine boards and other equipment down to the river bank.  Hugh yelled to his receptionist to grab the first aid kit from his truck, a well- stocked kit thanks to his paramedic training nearly 20 years earlier.  Unable to find a pulse, he began CPR while the man was immobilized on a spineboard and lifted up the bank.  Suddenly the bank gave way and the lifters were showered with dirt and rock. They collected themselves and eventually carried the young man to waiting paramedics who rushed him to hospital.  It was later learned that he regained and lost his heart beat three times enroute before being stabilized and flown to Vancouver.
During this time Holly had turned her attention to the other young man with the head and arm injury as Hugh went to the female driver who had been sitting on the river bank during the whole ordeal.  She said her back and chest were sore and it hurt to breathe, but thought she could get up and walk.  Hugh advised against that, immobilized her and lifted her to safety where she was treated for her injuries.
That night Hugh joined first responders for a debrief during which it was revealed that the vehicle’s brakes had failed causing it to go over the bank, drop 5 to 6 metres nose first onto the rocky beach and flip onto its roof in the river. The driver had anticipated this and warned the passengers to jump.  One was able to escape but one was trapped in the back seat as Hugh and Holly had found him.
Two days later, back on the job at the health centre, acting Band Chief Fred Johnson arrived and with a tear in his eye, expressed his appreciation for saving his nephew, who was in a coma in critical condition.  The woman, Chief Johnson’s neice, had fractured her spine in three places requiring surgery and pins to stabilize it.  The other young man with the head wound and broken arm now entered the clinic and, not wanting to cry, simply said “Thank you.”
All three victims eventually made a full recovery.  Recalling the incident later, Hugh felt an incredible sense of honour and pride in how members of this small village came together in a crisis and worked so well as a team to ensure the safety of the community.
For their quick actions and clear thinking that saved lives that day, Holly Harris and Hugh Ormerod are today presented with Silver Medals for Bravery.

This Saturday March 5th at Hotel Vancouver please join us as we honour Holly, Hugh and other individuals who have shown courage and bravery during water rescues.

If you can't make it to the ceremony check for news coverage Saturday night on all major TV stations.


CLERC Registration is Now Open

The 2016 Canadian Lifeguard Emergency Response Championships (CLERC) are scheduled for April 30 – May 1, 2016, at the Guildford Recreation Centre in Surrey, B.C.

Registration is now open and closes on April 18, 2016 at 16:30 PT.

If you are interested in getting involved as a judge, official or event coordinator for CLERC please contact David Rose at .
Register Your Team Now

Around the Branch Office


We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Brooke Cherfils to the position of Education Director for the BC & Yukon Branch of the Lifesaving Society as of February 1.  Brooke comes from Creston and has been the Aquatic Programmer at the Creston & District Community Complex for the past 8 years with over 20 years of aquatic experience.  She has been a strong supporter of the Society in the Kootenays for many years and has risen to the level of Branch Trainer in addition to being a National Lifeguard Instructor-trainer (IT), Lifesaving IT and Water Safety IT.

Brooke brings strong technical skills and program knowledge to the position along with an understanding of current issues in aquatics.  Her recognition of the importance of regional support will serve the Lifesaving Society well in meeting our objectives.
Due to currently working on completing her Master of Arts degree, Brooke will be working with us for four days each week, Monday to Thursday.  She can be reached at
In addition, we are pleased to welcome Alvin Cheung on board as our part-time First Aid Program Coordinator as of Thursday, February 4.  Alvin will be responsible for overseeing all first aid programs including the AED Quality Assurance Program.  He has been employed in aquatics with the City of Burnaby for the past 11 years and in the role of Aquatic Leader for the past 7 years.  In that time he has become a First Aid Instructor, National Lifeguard Instructor, Lifesaving IT and Water Safety IT. 
Alvin’s education includes a degree in biophysics as well as having earned his Doctor of Medicine from UBC.  He will be working with us two days each week and is looking forward to ensuring high quality programs and seeing more people trained in first aid skills. 

If you are interested in becoming involved in our First Aid Program and becoming an instructor, please feel free to email Alvin at We are always happy to welcome new instructors to teach our first aid courses.

First Aid

Working Together to Train More Canadians in First Aid

The Canadian Guidelines Consensus Task Force was established in 2015 and with members being the Lifesaving Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Canadian Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, and the Canadian Ski Patrol. The Canadian Guidelines Consensus Task Force was constituted to review the consensus on science behind first aid and resuscitation protocols.

International recommendations for resuscitation and first aid are currently updated on a five-year cycle to reflect recent advances in clinical research. The Lifesaving Society contributes research and reviews scientific evidence through the Royal Life Saving Society Commonwealth and International Life Saving Federation.

It is important to note that first aid programs have not changed at this time. The Lifesaving Society is in the process of incorporating these guidelines into program content and more information will be released to affiliate delivery partners and instructors once Lifesaving Society programs have been updated. Click here for more information.


125th Celebration in London 

Delegates from Member Branches around the Commonwealth joined our Commonwealth President HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO and the Commonwealth Council in London recently for meetings and celebrations of the Society’s 125th Anniversary.

Around 50 members traveled to London for the week of events. They were joined by partners and friends from organisations working with the Society, along with officers from High Commissions in London for a packed programme of conference sessions, meetings, receptions, tours and dinners.

The two-day 125th Anniversary conference heard presentations on subjects as varied as how RLSS New Zealand revitalized itself after the devastating earthquake in 2011 which destroyed the branch’s headquarters in Christchurch; how RLSS UK managed to get drowning prevention on the political agenda; what happens to your body when it enters cold water; aligning drowning prevention with the UN’s sustainable development goals; and the history of beach lifeguarding in Gibraltar; along with several other interesting presentations. (Please contact Commonwealth HQ if you would like a copy of any of the presentations.)
His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent GCVO chaired a Commonwealth Council meeting at Marlborough House (main picture above) and an evening reception at The Cavalry and Guards Club, hosted by RLSS UK Patron, Lord Norrie. The Society was also treated to a reception hosted by His Excellency Sir Lockwood Smith, New Zealand High Commissioner, at New Zealand House.

The last full day of events included a tour on a historic London Routemaster bus, taking in key landmarks in the society’s history, including the home of founder William Henry in Bayley Street – which was also the Society’s first headquarters – and ending at Highgate Ponds on Hampstead Heath where many of the lifeguarding techniques used today were first developed.

Celebrations continued with an Anniversary Dinner held at Greenwich.
Commenting on the week, RLSS Deputy Commonwealth President Clive Holland said:

“The week was a fantastic opportunity for members from around the Commonwealth to get together and meet each other perhaps for the first time, and learn from each other about how drowning prevention operates on a global scale.

“It also gave us all the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the Society and, importantly, plan the future of the organisation in an ever-changing world. Many extremely useful meetings were held and, of course, everyone enjoyed immensely the social events organised by our hard-working Commonwealth HQ team.

“I would like to thank our President, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, for his interest and invaluable contributions in the week’s events; to Lord Norrie for hosting the reception at the Cavalry and Guards Club and to His Excellency Sir Lockwood Smith for hosting the reception at New Zealand House.

“This is the first major event of our Anniversary year and I look forward to other activities taking place around the Commonwealth as the year progresses.”

(Source - )


Calendar of Events

Lifesaving Society - BC & Yukon Branch AGM
March 4, 2016
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Honour & Rescue Ceremony
March 5, 2016
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Canadian Lifeguard Emergency Response Championship (CLERC)
April 30-May 1, 2016
Guildford Recreation Centre - Surrey, BC

Canadian Pool Lifesaving Championship (CPLC)
May 14-15, 2016
Edmonton, AB

80th Annual Barnsley Branch Lifeguard Championship
August 19-20, 2016

Saanich Commonwealth Place, Victoria
ILS World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2017
October 17-19, 2017
Vancouver, British Columbia
Copyright © 2016 Lifesaving Society BC & Yukon, All rights reserved.

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