How did Lifeguard Equipment Evolve?

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Some of the earliest known lifeguard equipment has been around since the early 1900s. One of the most staple pieces of lifeguard equipment, the Lifeguard rescue tube or can is a piece that in 1919 was called the Walters Torpedo buoy. It was named after its inventor, Henry Walters, a member of the Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps.

Rescue cans and rescue tubes are floatation devices that make water rescues easier.  The essential marine rescue tube supports both the victim and rescuers weight during the rescue.  Lifeguards are required to have their rescue tube within arms distance at all times. In an emergency, the Lifeguard will grab their rescue tube and their ocean rescue fins as they run to rescue the victim.

No doubt one of the most famous pieces of lifeguard equipment is the Water rescue buoy. They were used during World War II by the Germans. The rescue buoys were scattered and tossed into the English Channel for downed Luftwaffe flyers. These rescue buoys saved many German airmen. The rescue buoy has been modified over the years. It was redesigned back in 1960 and has been the fundamental lifesaving tool for conscious multiple victim rescues ever since. The rescue buoys are still the number one piece of lifeguard equipment used throughout the world.

Doubtful a day goes by that you see a lifeguard without this piece of lifeguard equipment; rescue fins are designed for greater propulsion through the water with minimal effort. Leonardo da Vinci was a true Watermen and thought the human feet were too small to be useful in water so toyed with the idea of a swim fin. But it was Benjamin Franklin who made a pair of wooden hand fins as a young boy. In 1914 the modern swim fins were invented by a Frenchmen Louis de Corlieu, a Lieutenant Commander in the French Navy. After leaving the Navy in 1924 he spent the next 9 years developing and perfecting two fins for the feet and two spoon shaped fins for the hands. He patented these two unique fins and when translated from French the fins were called, swimming and rescue propulsion devices.

The present day legendary fin is now constructed and shaped for maximum surf performance from dual density rubber with a soft rubber foot pocket and a stiff blade. Rescue fins are non-marking and full-floating, and are hydro-dynamically designed for greater propulsion. Custom X makes a great swim fin. The fin has a shorter blade, grip for jetty rescues and floats well. Lifeguards have been known to run in deep sand with this fin. Duck Feet swim fins are the most highly acclaimed and coveted fin since its inception from SEALS to the seasoned beach lifeguards.

Our favorite lifeguard equipment swim fin here at Original Watermen is Da Fins swim fin. It is one of the best fins for all beach lifeguard agencies. These fins will actually float and wash in, if lost in the water. Da Fins Work well with jetty rescues and cobble hopping.  At Original Watermen a supplier of Duck Feet and Da Fin swim fins as well as fin belts to most government and local agencies across the globe.

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Finally, probably the most evolved piece of lifeguard equipment is the Rescue Backboard. Its beginning in 1979 has progressed from a slab of wood with sinew leather straps to secure the injured victim, to a heavy-duty polyethylene shell, that is x-ray translucent. The early rescue spineboards were constructed of cheap, poorly sealed, porous wood. The inexpensive sheets of plywood also absorbed fluids, so with the rise of HIV and other infectious diseases, plastic and aluminum three-part composite boards were created. Currently the Watermen Spineboard is the most popular board on the west coast.

Is your lifeguard equipment outdated and of poor or unacceptable quality? Or is your lifeguard equipment in need of replacement? If you answered yes to either of those questions, take some time to visit our lifeguard store, and update your lifeguard equipment. At Original Watermen, we carry everything you need, as we were created by lifeguards, for lifeguards.

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