Annual Lifeguard Training

Annual Lifeguard Training

So, initial lifeguard training is essentially the same commitment of time regardless of which program you use, more or less.  The E&A program, the International lifeguard Training Program (ILTP), is 24 hours, but remember, it requires an annual renewal to avoid knowledge/skills erosion.

 

Now, everyone goes in doing their level best to produce quality lifeguards.  The reality is, 24 hours is enough to produce a good raw product.  Refinement of this raw product will be discussed in more detail in a subsequent post.  This post is about how to produce the best raw product you can in the initial 24 hours.

 

It all starts with the teaching philosophy.  The most effective learning is achieved by “doing.”  If all you do is preach a sermon and tell war stories, nothing will ever stick.  If you must present classroom content, make it interactive, not a straight up lecture.  Ask leading questions to advance the subject matter and keep the candidates awake and engaged.

 

When teaching skills sections, get the candidates moving.  Guided, hands-on repetition is how people embed technical skills.  Put everyone in a position to see and hear you.  Start with a short demonstration, and confirm understanding.  If it’s a water skill, demo it on land first, in the water second.  Either way, quickly move into drills.  Remember, people learn by “doing.”

 

Drills should start out with volume in mind.  At first, get candidates a lot of reps and make broad corrections to the group.  As you see the group grasping the skill, move to a drill format that allows for more individualized corrections.  While it won’t get you as many reps, it will allow you to address individual deficiencies in a more meaningful way.  Always maintain control of drills and keep them moving.  They can very quickly deteriorate to conversations.  Drills are a master class unto themselves.  We will talk more about instructor development topics later in this series.

 

Ensuring competence at each step along the way is critical.  If someone hasn’t mastered the skills required to move on, something must be done.  The instructor may spend some extra time with the candidate or have another instructor do so.  They may be able to pair the candidate up with a more skilled or renewal candidate.  They may also need to have the difficult talk that alerts the person to the fact that they are not heading towards a passing mark in the class.

 

I firmly believe that when people can associate components of a larger concept together, they get a much clearer view of the big picture.  Setting a good foundation and then adding to it, showing people how the parts fit together yields great results.  At one facility I was a apart of, we used to run a full scenario at the beginning of each class, using the instructor team.  We would run it at full speed, then at half speed, and then review what they had seen.  We did this to show the end product to the class at the beginning.  We did it to show them what they would look like in the end and to allow them to have a reference for where each piece fit in as they progressed through the class.  We then started at the beginning and built lifeguards, piece by piece.  They were proud of themselves at the end of the class when they could do what the instructors did in the very beginning of the class.

 

Check outs/assessments are the final step in the process.  They are the final test of comprehension, both written and practical.  They are the step that turns candidates into lifeguards.  In this step, it is essential to be strict and only license or certify those that will represent you well in the stand.  All personal feelings must be removed and you must become a heartless gatekeeper.  If you turn out bad lifeguards, someone may end up coming to grips with the grim reality we are all trying to avoid.  In a perfect world, you should consider using different people to teach and assess.  It removes any question of impartiality.

 

Not everyone is meant to be a lifeguard, and if you teach long enough, a person or people will not pass your class.  That’s ok.  You get the right and responsibility to only put those lifeguards out there that you know are capable and willing to do the job at a high level.  One that will result in safe swimmers.

 

-Scott Deisley | Managing Director

 

If this content resonates with you the way it does with me, and you’d like to know how you can start working with us to take your program to the next level, please reach out to us at info@sstworldwide.com or on our office number, +971 4 456 0455 (local 04 456 0455).   

 

Choosing a Program

Choosing a Program

I was lucky.  A job in water safety found me.  The company had already come to grips with the reality that water is inherently dangerous, and had made a commitment to safety.  It was a progressive, forward thinking company and they had found, and were implementing the newly formed Ellis & Associates (E&A) Comprehensive Aquatic Risk Management Program.  Basically, I was set up for success from the beginning.

E&A was formed as a result of a drowning investigation in Houston, Texas in the early 80’s.  The investigation uncovered a litany of issues with existing conventional wisdom relating to water safety.  Some of the main points that were addressed were:

  • Certification validities were too long and knowledge and skills eroded quickly.
    • Certifications were valid for two to three years. E&A reduced credential validity to one year with annual renewal training to maintain it.
  • Lifeguards rarely used their skills, accelerating knowledge and skills erosion.
    • Four hours of in-service training were required to maintain validity of the credential.
  • Lifeguards were not accountable for their performance.
    • Licenses were issued in the place of certifications, ensuring they could be suspended or revoked in the same way a driver’s license would if performance suffered during the term of validity.
  • Performance and skills were never checked after the original certification.
    • Unannounced operational safety audits were performed several times per year to identify risk exposures and allow for corrective actions/efforts to be implemented to address them.

In short, E&A really took things seriously, and so did my employer.  In turn, I took it seriously. It was really that simple.  Users of the program swear by it, and most wouldn’t consider using any other provider.  They are a small company, dynamic, touchable.  You can call and talk to someone who will really take your questions and comments seriously.  Everyone in the E&A community knows one another, and if they don’t, when they meet they will have an instant connection.  The program is dynamic and since it’s not a maze of committees, changes can be made and implemented quickly when they will positively impact success rates.  I was part of changing back boarding protocols years ago, just because I was part of a group that was motivated to make things better.  When we identified a way to reduce head transitions during the process, it was considered, validated and implemented with immediate effect.  It was a thrilling moment for me and the others involved in this process improvement, and our enthusiasm wasn’t tempered by months or years of analysis.  It was a clear improvement, and it was made the standard that very day.

Some people think E&A takes lifeguarding too seriously, that it’s overkill.  I consider it an understanding of the reality and a commitment to safety.  Let’s face it, if your water safety provider isn’t serious about water safety, then who will be?  And how can you or your team feel like it’s important?

I am sure there are other programs/providers that are good, and in the end, you have to make your own choices.  But, if you have committed, you should be as enthusiastic about your provider as I am about mine…….31 years later.

 

If this content resonates with you the way it does with me, and you’d like to know how you can start working with us to take your program to the next level, please reach out to us at info@sstworldwide.com or on our office number, +971 4 456 0455 (local 04 456 0455).   

Commitment from the Top

Commitment from the Top

Is a successful water safety program a difficult thing to achieve?

Well, the answer is yes. And the answer is no.

Part 2: Commitment from the Top

If you look at the organizations with the best safety records over time, you will see that they have one key thing in common, they declare their commitment to safety. The CEO declares it to be priority number one. Their demeanor changes when safety is discussed. They demonstrate their commitment in words and actions. They don’t blink. They don’t hesitate. Their charming persona changes to seriousness so as not to be misunderstood. They make themselves clear. They invest in safety. They don’t take risks with it to save a few coins.

If they have been lucky enough to learn this from the failings of others, they make the commitment so that they don’t have to suffer the same fate. If they have learned it from personal experience, they never want to feel the sting again. The bitter taste of knowing that their inaction or frugality caused a serious injury or death is difficult to forget.

Once the commitment is made, operational life becomes sweeter. It’s enjoyable to celebrate a safe day, or a great rescue, or a successful CPR event. The events you face in the pursuit of this feeling are sometimes stressful and unpleasant. In the end though, it’s your commitment, and the effort you put forth that allow you to celebrate and not to mourn or regret. It’s a powerful feeling versus a powerless one. It allows you to be proud, not ashamed. Not riddled with guilt.

An organization reflects its leaders. It decides what is important and what is not by looking at what its leaders demonstrate to be important to them. If the people at the top don’t believe safety is important, no one in the organization will. Without leadership commitment, a really successful water safety program is a difficult thing to achieve. With leadership commitment, it’s a really difficult thing not to achieve.

Commitment is an easy step in and of itself, and after coming to grips with the reality that water is inherently dangerous, it’s a hard step not to take.

If this content resonates with you the way it does with me, and you’d like to know how you can start working with us to take your program to the next level, please reach out to us at info@sstworldwide.com or on our office number, +971 4 456 0455 (local 04 456 0455).

 

Scott Deisley

A Week in the Life . . .

A Week in the Life . . .

A Week in the Life

 

Perhaps unconventionally, the snapshot of work that you’re going to experience begins at 10pm on a Tuesday evening. A major transport hub for business, commodities and people alike, Dubai International Airport never seems to slow down. We are on our way to Thailand, though due to the nature of the trip I can’t do the typical Instagram post or Facebook check in. Vana Nava, Thailand’s award-winning waterpark, is going to receive its safety audit and this means total confidentiality.

 

The Ellis & Associates ILTP audit program was the first of its kind and one of the major ways we push the industry standard. For many, certification stops the moment candidates receive a certificate – but with E&A, operating as a Training Center or a Comprehensive Aquatic Risk Management Client means that you adhere to ensuring in service training and a higher commitment to refreshing the skills and knowledge of your teams. Once SST have certified your lifeguard instructors, you are free to run your own training sessions – avoiding the need of involving a 3rd party for training, waiting for public schedules to roll around or navigating the operational nightmare of losing your team for days at a time. Spiderman teaches you that “with great power, comes great responsibility”, and this is where the audit program comes in: we have to retain a form of quality control over the delivery of our programs and the agreed implementation of our standards.

 

Even our competitors have to agree that E&A’s/SST’s standards are high, and our now worldwide reputation is deeply rooted in our people not merely adopting, but believing in those standards. The audit program can be annual in some cases, but is much more effective as a quarterly, unannounced visit from an E&A auditor to your facility. From scanning a pool to the supervisors correcting and coaching, auditors spend time observing the good (and let’s be honest, the bad and the ugly). All observations are recorded, so that you as the operator can review real time footage which is then handed over to you for your own training, coaching and records. After informing operational heads that we are in the facility, we move forward to skills check, where your teams demonstrate their ability to handle an emergency – again, all recorded to give you more learning material. Right down to your facility paperwork, we look at all aspects of the operation to help you maintain the safety of your guests.

 

After a delayed flight out, we land behind schedule into Bangkok airport and now face a 3-hour drive in the rush hour to Hua Hin. Being an overnight flight, we do have Wednesday afternoon/evening ahead of the audit; but we’re not headed for the bars and beaches. Auditing is only a part of my role, so as soon as check in is done, I’m back online to deal with any emails that have come in, but our main focus is the pre-audit paperwork we need to do. Using custom built software, we prepare the outline of what we’re going to observe and ensure we are all ready to go. Having only had a power nap on the plane, it is good to get under a hot shower before wandering the local area for some authentic Thai dinner. Settling back to the hotel, I’m amused to find that Baywatch is on the TV, a perfect if unrealistic indulgence to end the day.

 

The sun rises early on Thursday morning; after a short run and breakfast, we’re ready to head up to the waterpark. As any other guest would do, we purchase a ticket (no special access is arranged) and then the audit really begins. From various locations in the park, wave pools, to catch pools, to the lazy river, the number of visual observations we take depends on the size of your facility. The lucky guards we observe will be discreetly videotaped for 10 minutes and graded according to your audit criteria. Auditors love to swap hints and tricks for getting observations – from hiding in the bushes to being in the park restaurant, our intention is never to catch guards out, but to give the facility a true representation of what is happening.

 

Once the observations are done, we head to the changing room and change into our regular SST/E&A polo shirt. Those moments as you walk through the park to find the supervisor team start the whisper – “Ellis is here” – mixed in with smiles, a hint of panic and excitement. The management team at Vana Nava comprises Lois, Bos and Fai and we discuss the next part of the audit which is the skills test out. Bos and Fai, as Thai nationals, are working entirely in a second language and believe me, their English beats my Thai!  We organize the Timmy doll, who many of you know and love, and set out to the lazy river for an OMD, or Operational Manikin Drop, part of our VAT, or Vigilance Awareness Testing. The objective here is to ensure that the lifeguard is sufficiently attentive to recognize a guest in distress in accordance to the 10/20 protection standard. As expected, the lifeguard passes, and we move to another part of the park to repeat the process but this time using Bos as a “live” stimulus. We again have a passing standard, so we move forward to the skills test out. Simulating different emergency situations, the purpose here is ensuring the facility as a whole can demonstrate their emergency action plan without preparing for it beforehand. Almost everyone gets a thrill out of watching teams pull together in skill tests, but this goes 10-fold when working in another language. Seeing ILTP skills flawlessly executed in Thai is a testament not only to the team at Vana Nava but also the program as a whole. Finishing up the skills, we then set paperwork audit for Friday morning. Believe it or not, we now sit at 7pm in the evening so when Lois suggests her favorite Thai restaurant for dinner, it’s an easy decision to make!

 

Up early on the Friday, we have to check out of the hotel before going to the park. Paperwork takes a short time to complete, but we also sit and review the tapes; identifying any areas for improvement as well as celebrating some excellent guarding. Sometimes, audits show improvement in guards that once were a concern or highlight positions that need to be reviewed but whatever it shows, we are here to support the facility and its successful, safe operation. Though I don’t want to, after sharing the Audit Swag, I have to say goodbye to the team in Thailand and hop back into the taxi for a 3-hour drive to Bangkok.

 

Back into the airport, it feels like yesterday that we arrived while we check the departure boards for our next destination, Sydney. Again, no social media check in because we need to protect the audit integrity. Fast becoming one of my favorite places to visit, whilst I am looking forward to being Down Under, I know that I still have a lot to do. Hopping online (thank goodness for free airport Wi-Fi!) we upload Vana Nava’s audit report to their client manager, check in on the emails from work and start to prep the audit paperwork for Wet ’n’ Wild Sydney. We are at the mercy of flight schedules, and this means that upon landing in Sydney on Saturday morning, we go straight over to the waterpark to start auditing; so the more we can get done before even arriving in Australia the easier it will all be. Timing works well and as we finish everything we can do, it is time to board and get in the air.

 

Landing again behind schedule, and on considerably less sleep than hoped for, after collecting the hire car, the first plan is just to grab a large, strong coffee before repeating the entire audit process again on a tight timeframe. The rain has not put off the crowds at the waterpark, so we still go ahead and take the visuals but arrange to do the skills and VATs on Sunday morning. Sydney breaks out sunshine and blue skies for skills, and in our review with management we learn that some of our visual observations are of guards who are only 2-3 days old in their role as well as a new supervisor in training – a newly promoted guard that we observed in last quarter’s audit! Any business is constantly growing, changing and evolving, and it is incredibly rewarding to see the career progression of passionate, aquatic safety professionals.

 

Wrapping up with Wet ’n’ Wild Sydney just after lunch effectively concludes the audit trip. However, we have 24 hours til the flight back to Dubai and it seems a shame to waste the afternoon, so another coffee down and over to Darling Harbour to see the opera house and bridge before flying on Monday. Tuesday, very early hours, land us back to Dubai and home for a shower, (another) coffee and back out to the office for getting back to work – achieving in 7 days: 3 flights and countries, 2 audits, 24 observations, 5 VATs and too many cups of coffee!

 

Emma Jane Robb

A Week in the Life . . .

Dumb Things Smart People Say About Water Safety

Dumb Things Smart People Say About Water Safety

I have been operating waterparks for over 30 years.  I have been fortunate enough to never have experienced a drowning at a facility I operated.  We have been tested, but we have always been successful.  I think a fair annual average of attendees at these parks has been 750,000.  That’s 22,500,000 people that came out for a fun day and went home alive.  That’s a big number.  That’s a lot of people that got to graduate from primary school, go on a first date, get married, have kids, and generally do things to make the planet you live on a better place.  Think about it.

In my line of work, I have heard the below bulleted questions/statements over and over again. Of course, I have taken artistic license, making them sound as ridiculous as I can, but really, this is the basis of what I hear from people who are trying to justify their desire to keep Lifeguarding from being important and subsequently complicating their lives.

So here’s the list:

I’m a hotelier, and I can legally get away with operating a swimming pool for my guests to use without a Lifeguard. Why should I care about safety in and around the pool?

Why should I insist, if I do have Lifeguards, that they should watch the pool rather than fetch drinks and food or move umbrellas and sunbeams?

The law requires me to have a Lifeguard at the swimming pool I operate for my guests, and I have one. I have satisfied the law. Why would I care if they can’t see the whole pool?  I have satisfied the law.  Isn’t that enough?  Some unwatched water isn’t a big deal, right?

I’m a waterpark operator, and so long as I satisfy the legal requirement to have a certified Lifeguards, why shouldn’t I just do the bare minimum program and make it all about cost savings?

If I have satisfied all the minimum legal requirements relating to my swimming facility, why should I ever go back to see if it’s effective and risk is being managed?

My staff went through a Lifeguard class that is valid for two years and requires no ongoing training or practice of the skills they learned. Why would this worry me? It’s still valid.

My Lifeguards swim every day, isn’t that enough?

I think we are operating an unsafe swimming facility, but my boss feels it’s ridiculous to spend any more money than we are on water safety efforts. Why would I want to argue about it?

We have been operating for a long time with inadequate water safety measures and have never had a drowning. Why would I make a change and start doing it right now?

I have signs that say “swim at your own risk.” If people can’t swim well, they shouldn’t get in the pool. If they’re stupid enough to get in, it’s really their fault if they drown, isn’t it?  I even have a throw ring and a shepherd’s crook.  We’re all good?

My team have Lifeguard training from one place and First Aid and CPR training from another. They have all the required certifications. I’m covered, right?

So, why should Lifeguarding be important to me, and why should I let it complicate my life?  The answer might be as simple as,

Food & Water

There are 3536 drowning deaths per year in the US.  In comparison, there are approximately 5000 food poisoning deaths there per year.  The numbers are remarkably similar, but when you take into consideration that people eat three meals a day and then sometimes snack in between, the exposure is great.  Most people don’t swim daily, much less three or more times daily. Theoretically, the number of food poisoning deaths should be at least three times higher than drowning deaths.

Why then are they not?

In  the Food & Beverage industry, the efforts to ensure food hygiene are very stringent and strictly policed.  They are policed internally, and they are policed by municipal agents.  Freezers and refrigerators use monitoring devices that track temperatures and report fluctuations.  Cleaning regimes are recorded.  Holding times are respected.  Generally, everyone in the operation is required to take a food safety/hygiene class as often as annually.  Health Departments conduct unannounced audits of food service facilities, judge and score them on their performance.  And the list goes on and on.  Strangely, when you go out to the pool deck, there is nothing but a sign that says, “swim at your own risk” or at best, a person with a Lifeguard shirt on who is polishing light fixtures with their back to the pool while your children swim.

Strange really, isn’t it? Something so inherently dangerous is given so little thought or consideration.  I mean, people can’t breathe under water.  When submerged for a long enough period of time, they just inhale it and without intervention, they die.

Practice Makes Perfect:

I was told a long time ago that Lifeguarding is 99% boredom and 1% terror.  This means that most of the time nothing remarkable happens to a Lifeguard while they are working, but once in a great while something happens that sends their world into total chaos.   99% of the time, they are dismissed as beach bums.  1% of the time the expectation is that they perform on the level of Paramedics, Nurses or Doctors.  They’re expected to recall their training and save lives……..on the spot.  This transformation occurs in a flash and the perceiver feels it to be quite reasonable.  The problem with this way of thinking is, the professionals they are compared to in this moment are highly trained, in-serviced, practiced and responding to emergencies daily as part of their normal work life.

People can learn by being told something, but they learn much more effectively when they are engaged and participate in what they are learning.  People learn by “doing.”  People also retain by “doing.”  If you do something every day, it becomes second nature.  It would stand to reason then, that if a person is taught skills by doing them, and then practices them regularly, they will retain them and when called upon to perform, they will act as a reflex.  Even when skills are taught effectively if they are not practiced regularly, they will fade from memory in a very short time.  If the initial training was not done in such a way as to imprint on the person, they will have little hope of retaining any of it for very long.

So, let’s go back to the 99% vs 1% concept.  Most Lifeguard training programs take around 24 hours to complete, part of that being water work, part theory and some include or integrate CPR and First Aid into the training.  At the end, there is an assessment of whether or not the information was absorbed and able to be put to work by the candidate.  Lifeguards who pass are given a certification.  The certification could be valid for as many as three years, and it implies that those skills, learned over 24 hours, will remain in a very meaningful way, in the head, heart and soul of the person for that whole three years. A person without any mandated or checked practice or update………for three years.  It’s expected to be ready for them to draw on during their 1% when they are called on to either save a drowning person’s life, or fail them miserably, watching them to die on a pool deck somewhere.  If I am the drowning person…….I don’t like my odds, and I don’t like setting that poor soul up for failure and a life of regret.

Fear of Conflict and an Inability to Change:

So, why do Lifeguard programs offer two and three year certifications?  Why do they not require practice sessions? A few answers might be that many awarding bodies are either too big to be able to make changes without endless committees approving the move, or they fear that the move will be poorly received by their clientele.  What else could it be?

The cost to run a Lifeguard class is the same regardless of if the validity is one, two or three years. Therefore, the price is often the same regardless of if the validity is one, two or three years.  People view comparatively shorter validities as bad comparative value for money.  The problem is, the skills aren’t there even if the validity on the certification says they are.  In reality, it’s no different than selling chicken with a realistic “use by” date on the package versus one three times longer.  By the time you open the packet, the chicken isn’t edible any more. How is that good value for money?  But people need chicken in the icebox, and they buy it to be able to say they have it, in the hopes that they never have to open the package.  Never have to smell the foul odor of failure.  They never have to face that 1%.

This is why companies offering two or three-year certification continue to offer them.  People keep buying them.  If operators would just face the fact that people don’t retain the information that long, they would stop buying from them.  Frankly, with all the evidence about skill erosion, the butcher should be ashamed of themselves to put that chicken on the shelf at all.  But if they do, let the buyer beware.

So, let’s go back to those questions again:

I’m a hotelier, and I can legally get away with operating a swimming pool for my guests to use without a Lifeguard.  Why should I care about safety in and around the pool?  The law hasn’t caught up with doing the right thing.  Fine. Don’t use that as an excuse to ignore what you already know.  People that can’t swim die when they find themselves in water over their heads. The only way to change that is to put a trained, in-serviced Lifeguard on deck with the sole responsibility of watching the water and responding to emergencies.  Make sure he/she has the right equipment to help them do their job. Do the right thing.

Why should I insist, if I do have Lifeguards, that they should watch the pool rather than fetch drinks and food or move umbrellas and sunbeds?  Let’s say you agree to the general philosophy from the last question/answer.  A Lifeguard can have the best skills in the world, but if they aren’t watching the water, they can’t see a Guest in distress.  If they don’t know they are needed, they can’t act.  Set them up for success.

The law requires me to have a Lifeguard at the swimming pool I operate for my guests, and I have one. I have satisfied the law.  Why would I care if they can’t see the whole pool? I have satisfied the law.  Isn’t that enough?  Some unwatched water isn’t a big deal, right?  Didn’t we just cover this?

I’m a waterpark operator, and so long as I satisfy the legal requirement to have a certified Lifeguards, why shouldn’t I just do the bare minimum program and make it all about cost savings?  Like most things, quality makes a difference when it comes to Lifeguards.  If you’re going to cut costs, cut the thread count of the towels.  The worst thing that will happen is you’ll get a few complaints.  Nobody dies.

If I have satisfied all the minimum legal requirements relating to my swimming facility, why should I ever go back to see if it’s effective and risk is being managed?  Don’t expect what you don’t inspect.  When the cat’s away, the mice will play.  Shall I continue?  People become complacent if they are not held accountable and monitored.  Likely you check food hygiene pretty regularly.

My staff went through a Lifeguard class that is valid for two years and requires no ongoing training or practice of the skills they learned.  Why would this worry me?  It’s still valid.  Just because the paper says they remember their training doesn’t mean they do.  Skills erosion is a real thing. People that don’t practice technical skills begin to lose them within months.  In a year, most of it is gone.  In two years, I wouldn’t trust them to save my cat from drowning.

My Lifeguards swim every day, isn’t that enough?  A good swimmer is a good swimmer.  A good Lifeguard is a good Lifeguard.  If your Lifeguards practice swimming, that’s what they’ll be good at. If they practice Lifeguarding and lifesaving skills, that’s what they’ll be good at.  While I can say that most Lifeguards I know could definitely work on their fitness and swimming skills, myself included, without the lifesaving skills, they won’t know what to do when they arrive at the crisis.  They’ll get there fast, and they’ll look good getting there, but they’ll look like a real idiot when they don’t know what to do with what they find there.

I think we are operating an unsafe swimming facility, but my boss feels it’s ridiculous to spend any more money than we are on water safety efforts.  Why would I want to argue about it?  Because if someone drowns and you didn’t at least make your case, it will be something you will have to live with for the rest of your life and something you will always regret.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Speak up. Arm yourself with the right argument and take it forward.  Hopefully this article gives you the basis of a good argument.

We have been operating for a long time with inadequate water safety measures and have never had a drowning. Why would I make a change and start doing it right now?  The odds are slowly shifting against you.  The longer you go without a problem, the more likely is that it is headed your way.  It may never happen, but is that a bet you want to make?  Be happy that you have gotten away with it for as long as you have. Make the change now, before you have to wish you had.

I have signs that say “swim at your own risk.”  If people can’t swim well, they shouldn’t get in the pool.  If they’re stupid enough to get in, it’s really their fault if they drown, isn’t it?  I even have a throw ring and a shepherd’s crook.  We’re all good? Look, I will agree that people are often their own worst enemy. All you have to do is look at the Darwin Awards and you’ll know that.  If someone does something stupid at home, there’s nothing you can do about it. But shouldn’t you protect them from themselves when they’re on your watch?  I mean, you put railings up on balconies, don’t you?  You could just put up a sign that says, “no railing, don’t fall off.”  Accidents and stupid people happen.  A sign is not enough.

My team have Lifeguard training from one place and First Aid and CPR training from another.  They have all the required certifications.  I’m covered, right?  Each training has a start and a stop point. What they don’t typically do is build bridges between the concepts.  In some Lifeguard trainings the skill ends at the side of the pool.  In others, they end when the Guest is extricated from the pool. The challenge is, if the transition from the pool to the deck, or the deck to the on-deck protocols are not practiced and all the little pieces put in their place, it’s at best awkward.  At worst, it stops progress of any kind. The sequence of steps during an emergency are more important than at any other time.  If someone is not sure, they are likely to freeze.  This is no time to stall or discontinue care.  Add the additional administrative nightmare of keeping track of all those expiration dates and scheduling all those classes.  Find a program that ensures start to finish care and practices it as a part of their training.

So, what do you think? It’s a matter of life and death.  The chicken in my kitchen is always fresh.  Is yours?

Words by Scott Deisley, Managing Director, Safety Skills Training DMCC, Scott.Deisley@sstworldwide.com

 

Dumb Things Smart People Say About Water Safety

 

 

 

 

 

Ripples

Ripples

I have loved water activities for as long as I can remember.

I spent summers with my grandparents at their waterfront house on the bay in North Carolina when I was a child. My earliest memories are of being at the pool, or the beach, or wherever there were recreational water opportunities. I remember pruned hands and fingers from staying in the water all day long. I loved going out on the boats we had, fishing swimming and playing, and feeling very at home.

I went on my first waterslide when I was about eight or nine years old.

I became a lifeguard when I was 19, an instructor when I was 23, and an instructor trainer when I was 27.

I am now 51, so I’ll leave you to do the math.

I worked in waterpark operations for all but three of the years since becoming a lifeguard. The facilities I worked at have averaged about 500,000 in annual attendance. That’s about 14.5 million guests. I either guarded or trained the guards that worked at each of these facilities.

I trained somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 instructors during my career. I was Director at four International Aquatic Safety Schools where an average of 150 attendees received their instructor licenses each year. I was a part of licensing four or five instructor trainers who went on to teach dozens if not hundreds of Instructors themselves. It’s hard to quantify how many guests these people are responsible for keeping safe, but suffice to say, the number is large. Let’s just say that conservatively it’s another 14.5 million, even though its likely far greater than that. That’s almost 30 million guests that went out for a fun day in the water and went home alive. Multiply that by their friends and families that get to enjoy them for times to come and that 30 million increases exponentially. Let’s say they each have 10 friends and family members that would have been devastated by their loss. The number becomes 300 million people whose lives I directly or indirectly touched by keeping them safe.

Now, think about this; what if one of those people, even just one, goes on to do something big, something important. What if they go on to push my best friend out of the way of an oncoming car? What if they predict an earthquake in time to allow my children to evacuate? What if they go on to cure cancer? If I hadn’t put the right people, with the right skills, in the right place to prevent their death, the world would be a much different place for me at some point.

I don’t tell you this to brag or gloat. It’s my job to keep people safe and to help others to do the same. I tell you this to let you know that what we do is important. More important than most of us think about on a regular basis. We touch people’s lives. We make sure people can have a great day in the water and live to remember it. We make a difference. Without people like us, everything would be different, and not in a good way.

If you feel like you would like to do more to make a difference in the lives of those around you, call or write SST. +971 4 456 0455 info@sstworldwide.com

Words by Scott Deisley, Managing Director, SST.

Ripples