RLSS UK National Club Simulated Emergency Response Championship (SERC)


The Simulated Emergency Response Competition (SERC) tests the initiative, judgement, knowledge and ability of 4 lifesavers who apply their lifesaving skills to an unknown simulated emergency situation whilst working as a team.

The competition tests each team’s rescue skills in and out of the pool, as well as their emergency first aid and casualty care, all within a two-minute time limit.

The RLSS UK National Club Simulated Emergency Response Championship (SERC) event is open to all RLSS UK affiliated organisations.

A team consists of four members of either the same or mixed gender. Teams can be entered into the Junior or Senior competition, and all team members must meet the age requirements on the day of the Championships. All team members must be members of the affiliated organisation and must be in individual membership of RLSS UK at the time of entry and on the day of competition.

SERC competitors are expected to respond as a group of four individual lifesavers acting in a coordinated team under the direction of an identified 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 the benefit of specialised equipment, back-up, or established procedures and communications systems.  In such circumstances, the personal safety of the lifesaver is paramount at all times.

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 the victims
  • Condition of the victims (e.g., panicking, non-panicking)
  • Rescue aids (equipment) available
  • Conditions prevailing (e.g., water depth, entry and landing points)

SERC types of casualties

Panicking Casualty

Panicking casualties are not able to communicate effectively, either because they communicate very little (shock) or because their attempts at communication are so vigorous (shouting and waving) that clear messages between the casualty and rescuer cannot be achieved.

Non-Panicking Casualty

May be more in need of assistance than rescue. Able to communicate clearly.

May be tired, weak or injured swimmers.

Unconscious Casualty

Unconscious does not mean non-breathing. Unconscious casualties can regain consciousness during a rescue and in doing so increase the risk that they pose to the rescuer.

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

  • Seeking assistance
  • Organising 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:

  • Mobilise 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-swimmers and injured swimmers. 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.