Each year, nearly 1,500 children drown in the U.S. As we all know, a drowning can occur nearly anywhere. Yet, the natural inclination is to believe that one will not happen in our own community, especially at our own YMCA. Awareness of the threat's reality is critical. Reinforcing proven prevention strategies is an essential element in protecting the kids in our programs. Both are the goals for our “Aquatic Alert” program. Each is a brief treatment of the topic, focusing on a real, recent, public event, gleaned from the media… reprinting the published article in its entirety (omitting names and identifying references to the organization) and providing a few important teaching points for you to share with your staff. As always, if you need additional guidance on this topic, please call us at 800-463-8546.
MAJOR MID-WESTERN CITY – 11/23/2002: [First victim], 49, of [suburb], died Thursday while swimming laps in the pool at the YMCA at [address] in [suburb 2].
[First victim], of the [numerical designator] block of [street], was found unresponsive in the pool about 2 p.m. She was taken to [Name] Health Center, where she died. The cause of her death is still under investigation.
MAJOR MID-WESTERN CITY – 12/04/2002: [Second victim], 39, of [suburb 3], died Saturday after he was found unconscious in the swimming pool at the YMCA at [address] in [suburb 2]. [Second victim], of the [numerical designator] block of [street], was found about 2:30 p.m. and taken to [Name] Health Center, where he died.
Witnesses said [second victim] had been jumping off the diving board. He had suffered from autism and had a history of seizures, investigators said. [First victim], 49, of [suburb], died Nov. 22 while swimming laps in the same pool. The cause of both deaths is under investigation.
the cause of death in either incident; neither have yet been attributed to drowning and both are under investigation; there has been no public announcement regarding the cause of death in first incident, which happened nearly 3 weeks ago
Almost anything about the incidents themselves…
whether the second victim was a special needs swimmer as was hinted by the reference to his history of seizures
what response, comment, or activity was made by the organization or its staff, if any; the facility itself is completely unmentioned in these very brief news spots; the facility is noted as the site of both incidents, but nothing more; what the organization did or did not do is unknown, and it is very possible that the facility was not even contacted by the reporter(s) who prepared these news flashes
two adults were found either unconscious or unresponsive in the same facility swimming pool within 10 days of one another
the victims were reported found unconscious or unresponsive, which at least implies that they were not observed in distress (aquatic or otherwise) and pulled from the water in an attempted rescue; if those reports are accurate, that would mean that the 10/10 standard was not being met, no matter what the actual causes of death
Any pool that is open or accessible for use should always be actively guarded by an attentive qualified lifeguard. Details on what that entails may be found in RMT – An Inviolate Primer or in briefer form in RMA – An Inviolate Primer on our website.
Even adults can drown. Sometimes (though not necessarily in either of these instances) adults may be special needs swimmers needing extra, possibly one-on-one, attention.
It is important for a YMCA to live and demonstrate its values, especially in a time of tragedy… not just to the specific individuals and families involved, but to the entire community.
Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.