Saturday, May 4, 2013

Guarding the World: What is a VAT?

Keep your guard up!
This post began as information about VATs, Live Audits, and Visual Audits, but as I started to write about each, I just kept writing, and kept writing. I looked over the novel that had formed on the page and decided, "There's no way I'd want to read that all in one sitting..." So I am breaking up the posts.

The following information is everything you would ever want to know about VATs. I worked as a lifeguard prior to Disney, so I anticipated the terror of VATs coming into the role. I searched all over the DCP blogosphere for as much information as I could find, but I came up short. This post will hopefully fill that void. So if you have any other questions regarding VATs, please try to ask them here, so I can help you be as informed as possible!


What is a VAT? 

VAT stands for Visual Awareness Training. The typical VAT is a silhouette that is black on one side and nude on the other. When placed at the bottom of the pool it is supposed to resemble what a person would look like unconscious on the bottom of the pool. I know this sounds terrifying, but really it's just a test to keep all lifeguards vigilant. The silhouette is the only type of VAT used at Walt Disney World Resort. Ellis also uses "dummies" that they'll sink to the bottom of the pool, but Disney put the kibosh on those because...well, they don't want to worry guests on vacation if they can help it.

How does VAT training work? 

Your coordinators and managers have a certain amount of VATs to complete in a month. A (sometimes sneaky) coordinator will roll up a VAT and hide it on their body (usually under a rash guard). They will swim into a zone, unroll, and lay the VAT. Once the VAT is dropped the lifeguard has 10 seconds to identify the VAT and 20 seconds to reach the VAT, but the most important part is the 10 seconds to identify. If you don't whistle and point and get your butt into the water, then you will fail the VAT.

You can also be "live VATed," which happens when your coordinator swims into your zone and pretends to drown. You have to treat it like a rescue and jump in after them. Any time a coordinator is swimming in your water, be suspicious. Also don't think you're off the hook after someone else has been VATed. My third VAT at the Contemporary was immediately after another guard scanned back in after going in for a VAT. The coordinator who dropped the VAT decided to swim over to me and conveniently forget how to swim. No worries. I helped him remember. ;p

What happens if I fail? 

Failing one VAT is not the end of the world. If anything it's a great wake up call, and it will make you that more vigilant on stand (ie. you will NOT let yourself miss anymore). If you do fail, your coordinator will have you do some visual training immediately after. They will have you turn away from the pool, and they will lay the VAT a few different places and you will point them out when you turn back around. This is just to make sure that you understand what they expectation is, so next time you will have no excuse to fail the VAT. Sometime in the next 10 days, you will be VATed again. If you get it, GREAT! You're all set.

What happens if I fail my reVAT?

If you miss it, I believe you have at least one more try. I never failed a VAT, so I'm sure. Most people that I worked with also got their second VAT, so I don't believe there was an issue. I believe after failing 3 VATs, they will talk to you about switching roles, which is still not the end of the world.

How often will I be VATed?

It really depends on where you will be working and your luck. If you work at the water parks, there's a greater chance that you won't be VATed. I was VATed 4 times at the Contemporary (2 live) and 0 times at All Star, Pop, and Art (but I was audited).

Do you have tips about passing a VAT?

Learn the bottom of your pools and do your job. Coordinators usually don't try to make VATs tricky. The times guards miss them is whenever they are just completely zoning out. Whenever I was really tired on stand or distracted, I would make myself rove or put my feet into the water. Also I'd sing to myself. Be vigilant, but try not to stress out too much. Chances are you'll have no problem!

2 comments:

  1. so I was VAT'ed and We were using the Shadow Vat and my Head Guard wadded it up at the bottom of the pool. It honestly looked exactly like a T-shirt even when I was right over it. Is that Proper use? or is it supposed to be layed out?

    ReplyDelete
  2. so I was VAT'ed and We were using the Shadow Vat and my Head Guard wadded it up at the bottom of the pool. It honestly looked exactly like a T-shirt even when I was right over it. Is that Proper use? or is it supposed to be layed out?

    ReplyDelete