|Keep your guard up!|
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