Having a safe aquatics center is an important aspect to any recreation center. Extensive training to ensure that a fun day at the pool doesn’t end up a tragic one is vital to any university.
Chris Seris, the assistant director for aquatics at the University of Missouri’s Mizzou Aquatics Center, said there are a few important things, in terms of aquatic center safety, to keep in mind.
Communication between your staff can make or break a team. Whether it be with the other staff or members coming to the pool, it is crucial to stress how important communicating is to your team. “Often, miscommunication leads to unsafe situations,” said Seris. “We want Team Mizzou members who can effectively communicate in a friendly manner with everyone who enters our facility.”
Seris explained it is also important for the staff to be aware of their surroundings in order to notice if there is an issue that can be corrected in a timely manner. “We maintain our water and air quality through regular monitoring, and work to train our staff to use their senses, as well as looking at physical tests to know if something needs attention,” explained Seris. “Simple things like paying attention to if the air has a bad or strange smell, if the air temperature or humidity is different than normal or if the water seem less clear than normal can all be signs of a safety issue.”
A mandatory training class is vital in ensuring your aquatics staff is ready for the rush of students and other members coming to the pool. Mandatory CPR, AED and First Aid trainings should be required of all positions. Following that, training of the facility, schedules, programs and Emergency Response Plans should be conducted within the first thirty days of being hired.
Hiring individuals with some of these trainings already done is an ideal situation, but don’t look past having your other staff step up to the plate to help out. At the University of Missouri, shadowing other employees really gives new staff members an idea of how they should be doing their job.
“Depending on the position, shadowing shifts may be scheduled so that new employees will be paired with experienced Team Mizzou members,” said Seris. “They can work together for a number of shifts, at different times of the day to learn the expectations and get the feel of the position.”
For a university looking to increase the safety of an aquatics program, a good beginning point is following the general rule of always making sure things are better than how you left them. “I think wanting everyone that enters the facility to be able to leave the facility in the same or better condition they entered it is a good place to start,” said Seris.