Aquatic Safety Review, Part 3

From an aquatic staff standpoint, the philosophy should embrace the importance of protecting both the users and the staff. Therefore, rescue tools should facilitate safe rescues where the staff is never at an unreasonable level of risk.

Obviously, the romantic side of life guarding is the dramatic rescue. However, I’ve never taken to the idea that my staff would need to risk their life to affect a rescue. They should always have adequate tools and proper training to manage all foreseeable situations in the aquatic facility.

Finally, backboards, respirators, AEDs, etc., are really first aid equipment that require appropriate training (though some AEDs actually walk the rescuer through its proper use). The best location may be immediately adjacent the pool at a primary lifeguard station, or the pool office, so that the equipment is always in excellent condition and ready for emergency use.

Regarding backboards, consider that if you need to use your backboard, it will also need to go with an ambulance to the hospital.

If your facility has only one board, you should ask to have the ambulance leave one for your pool operation, until you can get yours back from the hospital.

Also, to ensure a smooth transition between pool staff and EMS, at least once a year (prior to opening for seasonal facilities), make sure you are coordinating services and perhaps even training with each other (see the article by G. Dworkin cited below for additional reasons to collaborate with local emergency agencies).

4. Starting blocks and diving boards (platforms): The aquatic staff needs to regularly inspect starting blocks and diving boards to ensure that they are safe and clean.

The top surfaces and steps/ladders to the top surfaces need to be coated/covered with non-slip materials. If not regularly maintained and/or cleaned, these surfaces can be hazardous.

The various components of the starting blocks and diving boards should also be inspected, such as bolts that connect the equipment to the pool deck, joints (bolted or welded), etc.

Because of the various forces that are applied to starting blocks and diving boards, this equipment should also be annually inspected by an engineering professional or firm on contract.

5. Swimmer aids (floatation devices used by non-swimmers): Whereas floatation devices can be effectively integrated into instructional aquatic programs, their use outside an organized class should be limited to one-on-one supervision and perhaps only during designated times. The aquatic staff, if providing these swimmer aids, must ensure that everything made available for use is regularly inspected and in good condition.

Kickboards, pull-buoys, hand paddles, jogging belts, etc.: These are examples of aquatic equipment designed for both instruction and physical activity. When such equipment is provided by the facility for use by participants, it must also be regularly inspected by the staff and deemed in good condition.

Policy Development & Implementation

1. Policies regarding the use of the above types of pool equipment need to be clearly written and adhered to by participants and staff. This means that participants must be educated regarding the use of this equipment, and the staff must both educate participants and diligently enforce the policies.

2. Aquatic staff should meet all local/state codes regarding lifeguard certification. Their abilities should be regularly assessed and maintained to secure their position on the staff.

And, all certificates should be photocopied and kept on file with the staff members’ employment records. Remember, this article is about safety. If the aquatic staff is not adequately prepared in the skills of life guarding and first aid, they are a risk to the user and to themselves.

3. Signage (participant and staff education/notification): The aquatic and maintenance staff should ensure that all signage intended for safe operation of the facility be ADA-compliant and maintained in good repair.

Effective signage is a wonderful educational tool, especially when coupled with graphics that assist visual learners and those who cannot read.

I am aware of one aquatic facility where a graphic depiction of the pool depth (mirror image from deck up on the wall) allowed users to know exactly how deep the pool was as compared to their own height.

4. Pool rules and information such as No running, no diving, shallow and deep ends should be properly stated on the deck and on adjacent walls when appropriate. Signage helps manage user access and egress to both the facility and the pool.

And, different colors in different parts of a pool deck can assist with both safety orientation and education. Aquatic and maintenance staff should work together to modify or add signage whenever the outcome facilitates the effectiveness of operational safety.

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Related posts:

  1. Aquatic Safety Review, Part 1
  2. Aquatic Safety Review, Part 2
  3. Safety and Risk Management Checklist
  4. Camp Aquatic Safety
  5. Tracking Rick
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