Saturday, April 27, 2013

Guarding the World: A Day in the Life of an Art Guard

Welcome to the Cozy Cone Motel! credit
I've already written this post. Kind of. I wrote one which covered what my day was like working at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Well, it turns out as much as being a lifeguard at different resorts is is also very different. Pretty much every resort will have a different rotation due to different number of stands or different set up of pools/slides. Also the culture of each resort differs so much. That's why deployments can be overwhelming. You don't know anyone when you first get there, and the way they operate their pool could be drastically different than what you do day to day.

Since I've had the luxury of working at different resorts, I'm going to share a typical day for me at Disney's Art of Animation and maybe a few others if I can remember enough details.

A few things to mention before I begin. I have never worked split shifts (besides at All Star), which is the schedule lifeguards are on from late March to late August/Sept. So if your fall program begins in say July, you will probably not be on 10 hour lines until September. Instead you will get either an AM or PM shift for 8 hours, so you'll either come in at 9am or 3pm and work till either 5pm or 11pm.

A Typical Day...

 9:10AM I leave my apartment with my purse, bag with sunscreen and extra clothes, my lunch, a mug of coffee and my trash and jump in my car. I drop of my apartment's trash and drive to Art of Animation. It's about a 12 minute trip from my apartment.

9:22AM I flash my Disney ID at the security gate of Art of Animation and continue driving to the Lion King section where I park

9:26AM I put on my hip pack at my car, drink the rest of my coffee and grab all my bags and walk to my locker from the loading dock. I usually grab for my whistle about 3 times as well, just to make sure I actually have it.

9:30AM I stow everything away, make sure I have my ID on me, and I walk out past the Big Blue Pool (where Nemo is!) to the Coordinators office.

9:37AM I walk into the Coords office and clock in there. I say "Good Morning Friends!" to everyone and continue to be energetic on Mondays and Tuesdays. Wednesdays and Thursdays, I'm usually pretty quiet during break out. 10 hour lines can get tiring.

9:45AM Time for Break Out where they usually thank us for coming into work. We figure out if we have enough guards (like if someone called in, we'd be short). If we have too many we either send a guard to Pop Century (since we're all cross trained) or someone gets an Early Release (ER) if they want it. We also go over upcoming events, like Cast activites, training sessions, inservices or other items which affect us, like road closings or new radio procedures. At the end of break out, we're given a printed out copy of our rotation, which also lists the movie that night, park hours, and our coordinators (sometimes they even include jokes, fun facts, or pictures!).

9:50AM Go to first stand

Once Breakout has wrapped up, all the lifeguards head out to their first stand with clipboards in hand. We have checklists for every stand that we fill out before we begin for the day. The checklist verifies that we have all of our equipment (radio, trauma bag, backboard, first aid kit, etc) and that our stand is set up properly (the umbrella is up, first aid kit is accessible, we have extra towels, and so on). Everyone fills out their checklist, sets up their stand, and at 10:00AM, we all go 10-8 aka the lifeguards are on duty. So if I'm opening Mermaid 1 that day I get to say "Flippin' Fins is now 10-8!" over the radio. I love saying flippin' over the radio.
Ariel and Flounder overlooking the Mermaid or Flippin' Fins pool
10:30AM Bump/get bumped to next stand.
Our rotation has changed so many times I can't remember the exact time, but last I remember the first stand is longer than the rest. But normally a stand is 30 minutes plus a 15 minute bump. So I (officially) get to my next stand at 10:45, and the next lifeguard bumps me 30 minutes later (11:15), and then my next 30 minute stand begins at 11:30.

There are 12 stands in a day and 2-3 breaks. Again the rotation has changed so many times! It used to be just 2 and then they gave us a third. But the typical rotation if we start at Cozy Cone is: Cars1, Cars2, Nemo2, Nemo3, Break, Mermaid1, Mermaid2, Nemo1, Break, Cars1, Cars2, Nemo2. So basically you'd have 4 stands then break and then just 3 stands and break. The Nemo pool is closest to the coordinators office and the break room, which is why the breaks are build around that pool. That and the fact that guarding Nemo is such a huge endeavor that you need a break after it. Nemo is the largest resort pool on Walt Disney World property. And it definitely feels that way some days. It can be overwhelming.
Nemo, The Big Blue Pool, which literally is a VERY VERY BIG Blue Pool
At each pool LG1 has the radio, except at Nemo, where Nemo1 and Nemo2 have a radio, so there can be a radio on either side of the pool.

If we skip ahead...

7:45PM Begin the last stand! Try not to look at the radio too many times (if I have one)

8:00PM Time to go 10-7 for the evening!
So at the Contemporary, we have slides so we have to announce last call for the slide and close the slide before doing closing announcements. At Art there is no slide, so we just wait for our closing coordinator to make an announcement over the radio saying it is 8:00pm, and that it's time to make your pools 10-7 for the evening, do you copy (insert each pool name here). I We all love hearing that announcement because it means we get to go home! So whoever has the radio is responsible for saying "(pool name) Copy!" and then making their closing announcement. For example at the Nemo pool I would say...
"Dudes and Dudettes! May I have your attention please? The time is now 8pm and all lifeguard-dudes are going off duty. You're welcome to just keep swimming, but you will now be doing so at your own risk. All pool rules still apply. In case of jellyfish stings, shark bites, or any other emergency, there is a red telephone on my lifeguard stand which will connect you automagically to 911. Thank you for swimming with us this evening along the EAC and have a magical evening!!"
You can see that I had just a wee bit of fun saying those closing spiels... My mermaid themed one may have been my favorite.

8:03PM After the closing announcement has been said, the lifeguards scan out and the lifeguard with the radio calls the pool 10-7 (lifeguards off duty). We close down our stands and put all of our equipment away, either into a cart into the pump room or back into the coordinators office.
8:13PM We have another "break out," going over the same information as the morning and sometimes talking over a mock situation to make sure everyone knows their Emergency Action Plans (EAPs).

8:15PM Clock out and go home! And on Thursdays we hit up Taco Bell :p

Hopefully that made some sense even if you aren't a lifeguard! Let me know if you have any questions about Disney's Art of Animation or the role of a lifeguard itself.

Your former (but always in my h-ART) Art guard,

If you're looking for another post on Resort Lifeguard life, may I suggest A day in the Life (the Contemporary), My All Star Deployment, or My Pop Century Deployment.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I'm heading down to Florida in the Spring and your blog has been super helpful! Thank you so much. I was just thinking, you should ahave guest bloggers write about a day in the life at their resort/park and have a whole collection. Thank you again for the awesome posts!