Simulated Emergency Response Championships


In order to compete in the Simulated Emergency Response Competition (SERC), athletes in junior divisions (14-15 years) must be Registered Athletes. Senior and Master competitors will compete as per the rules prescribed in the current ILS Competition


The Simulated Emergency Response Competition (SERC) tests the initiative, judgment, knowledge, and abilities of up to four (4) lifesavers who, acting as a team, apply lifesaving skills in a simulated emergency situation unknown to them prior to the start.

This competition is judged within a 2-minute time limit. All teams respond to the identical situation and are evaluated by the same judges. The Simulated Emergency Response Competition will be conducted without male and female categories. Teams may consist of any combination of males and females. The winning team will be the team that accumulates the most amount of points.


  • Team management and competitors are responsible for being familiar with the competition schedule, and with the rules and procedures governing the competition.
  • Teams may not be permitted to commence in the SERC event if they are late reporting to the marshalling area. To assist the organisers in determining how many heats may be required, events may be marshalled the day before or at the start of the day the event is scheduled.
  • The referee will decide whether the competition will be conducted in heats, semifinals, or finals.
  • The order of teams will be determined by draw in a method approved by the referee.
  • Any written instructions provided in lock-up, and which are required for the management of the simulated emergency, will be provided in English. Teams may bring a translator into lock-up to translate the English instructions. The translator remains in lock-up with the team.
  • Competitors will report promptly to the lock-up area at the designated time before the start of the competition. A team that is absent from lock-up at the start of the competition will be disqualified.
  • Competitors will treat and handle victims with care: verbal and physical abuse is unnecessary and inappropriate.
  • Competitors may wear corrective eyewear such as glasses and contact lens. Loss of such eyewear will not be grounds for protest or appeal. Corrective goggles or masks are not permitted.
  • Team members must wear their national team or club cap. Team leaders will wear a distinctive identifying cap provided by the host organizing committee. A competitor will not be disqualified if the cap is lost after the start of an event provided that officials can identify that the competitor correctly completed the event.
  • No other personal belongings or equipment are permitted in the competition arena (e.g., watches, jewellery, phones or any other communication device, goggles, masks, fins).
  • Judges’ scores are not subject to protest.

Security and Lock-Up

Before the start and throughout the competition, teams are isolated in a secure “lock-up” area out of sight and sound of the competition arena. The scenario, actors, and any equipment will be secret until competitors are locked up. After competing, a team may observe subsequent teams compete. 

Competition Start

One at a time, teams are escorted from lock-up to the pool where, following an acoustic signal, they are confronted with “victims” in various locations who need various types of assistance. 

Actors will begin their victim simulations immediately prior to the acoustic starting signal, and as the team enters the competition area. At the acoustic signal competitors respond to the victims in any manner they wish within the time limit.

Competition Arena

The Simulated Emergency Response Competition may be held in a variety of aquatic environments.

The competition arena will be clearly defined to all teams in advance. There will be a clear indication of the location of both entry and exit points from the scenario area (e.g. which pool sides can be used). Competitors will be advised in advance if there are pool steps in the entry or exit area which may be removed or used. Unless otherwise advised, competitors will assume that the conditions in the competition arena are “as found”.

Situation Scenarios

Simulated emergency scenarios, secret until the start of the competition, will be designed using one or more of the following approaches:

  • single or multiple-person situations which are related;
  • a group of people involved in a number of situations which relate to a common theme, such as a pool party or an upturned crowded boat.

Simulated emergencies will be staged as realistically (and as safely) as possible, and not test the competitors’ imagination. For example, a situation in which an actor complains of burned hands should be staged with simulated evidence of a fire, or electrical wire, or chemicals. (Real fire, live wires, or actual chemicals will not be used.)

Victims, Manikins and Bystanders

Victims will be role-played by volunteer individuals who present different problems necessitating different types of aid. Victim types may include simulated non-athletes, weak athletes, injured athletes, and unconscious victims. In addition, competitors may be confronted by resuscitation manikins in the role of “victim” as well as bystanders and athletes.

The role-playing may evolve (e.g. a conscious victim becomes unconscious) during the course of the scenario providing that marks reflect the change, that there is consistent timing in the change, and that the change is consistent for every competitor throughout the competition.

Competitors will be notified before the start if victim type is to be signified by a symbol (e.g. a red/black cross on forehead indicating unconsciousness).


Competitors may use all material and equipment available within the competition area. Competitors may not bring their own equipment into the competition arena.

Start and Timekeeping

An acoustic signal will indicate the start and finish of each team’s emergency response.


Lifesaver versus Lifeguard Response

SERC competitors are expected to respond as a group of four individual lifesavers acting in a coordinated team under the direction of an team leader. Unlike lifeguards who often work as part of well-trained teams in controlled aquatic environments, lifesavers must be prepared to respond appropriately in unexpected emergencies without benefit of specialized equipment, back-up, or established procedures and communications systems. In such circumstances, the personal safety of the lifesaver is paramount at all times and this will be reflected in the marking sheets.

Competitors apply the following basic rescue steps:

  • Recognition of a problem
  • Assessment of the situation
  • Plan a course of action to overcome the problem
  • Action to effect the rescue
  • Care of the victim

When assessing the situation, competitors consider:

  • Capabilities of the rescuer
  • Number of victims
  • Position of victims
  • Condition of victims (e.g. non-athlete, weak athlete)
  • Rescue aids (equipment) available
  • Conditions prevailing (e.g. water depth, entry and landing points)

On the basis of their assessment, competitors plan a course of action which may involve:

  • Seeking assistance
  • Organizing assistance
  • Informing an available helper
  • Gathering any appropriate aids or equipment
  • Performing the rescue as necessary

The plan should establish control of the situation and aim to preserve as many lives as possible. The management of a rescue of multiple victims presents rescuers with choices. In brief, rescuers should manage the situation as follows:

  • Mobilize the mobile
  • Secure the safety of those in imminent danger
  • Recover and resuscitate those in need of continuous care

The mobile may include those capable of assisting themselves to safety. Those in imminent danger may include non-athletes and injured athletes. Those in need of continuous care include unconscious, non-breathing, or suspected spinal-injured victims. When a suitable plan has been devised it should be put into action promptly. Competitors should be alert to changes in the situation and adapt their plan of action to respond to such changes.

When carrying out a rescue competitors must remember:

  • Rescue from a position offering greatest safety to oneself
  • The management of rescue principles
  • Approach victims with extreme caution
  • Avoid direct personal contact with conscious victims

If entering the water is inevitable, competitors select the most effective techniques for the situation without endangering their own life in any way. It is important that competitors clearly show their intentions and actions to the judges.


A minimum of one judge per scenario plus one overall judge is required. The marking sheets will be prepared with one judge marking the entire scenario while the others judge the handling of the individual victims. One judge per victim is recommended. Before the competition start, judges will be briefed on the situation scenarios, scoring procedure, and marking priorities.
A judge will be assigned to a victim or group of victims, and assess all teams in that part of the scenario for the entire competition. 

The marking system used in this competition allows judges to use their skill in assigning marks, and provides for a competitor offering an appropriate but unanticipated rescue response.
In allocating marks, judge(s) consider the following:

  • victim type
  • equipment available and used
  • speed of assessment
  • priority given
  • quality of action/task
  • victim care

Early and accurate recognition of the victim’s problem(s) is the essential first step to success in this competition. Successful recognition is closely related to the quality of the victim simulation and staging of the incidents. Scoring will reward the competitors’ accurate assessment of which victims take priority.

The competitors’ assessment of which victims take priority will depend on the
nature of the emergency. For in-water victims, competitors should follow these victim
priorities in determining whom to help first:

  • Weak athletes and others who are mobile
  • Victims in imminent danger: non-athletes and injured athletes
  • Victims requiring continuous care: unconscious, non-breathing

Specific aspects of the scenario may be weighted to provide higher scores for a rescue performance requiring a greater degree of skill and judgement. Such weighting (secret to
both judges and competitors) is dealt with by the recorders.

See the most up to date version of the Alberta and Northwest Territories Competition Manual for the most up to date information and Disqualification codes. The Manual is the sole source for rules, policies and procedures for Competitions in Alberta and Northwest Territories. The manual maintains authority in the event that this webpage and the manual contradict.


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