Two Aquatic Incidents With Vastly Different Results


Two Aquatic Incidents With Vastly Different Results



Midwest Town - 6/16/07: A supervisor at [name] Resort told a lifeguard twice not to enter a pool to help a boy seen face-down in the water, according to a police report on the boy's drowning that was released this week.

The report showed the supervisor instead had the lifeguard get someone swimming nearby to check on the child. When the boy was unresponsive, the patron brought him to the side of the pool and lifeguards tried to resuscitate the child.

[Town] Police Chief [name] said he didn't expect charges to be filed against the resort in the case of [victim], 4, of [town, State], who died about 8 p.m. on June 8. “We're not suspecting any foul play or anything. It was obviously an accident,” [Police Chief] said.

[Name], a spokesman for [name] Resort, said there were four lifeguards on duty. A full staff includes at least three on-duty lifeguards.

[Resort spokesman] said the lifeguards enter the water daily when they feel someone is in danger. “It's a subjective call on the lifeguard's part, but we'd rather be proactive,” he said.

But the report said a lifeguard saw the boy face-down and asked a nearby supervisor twice if she should go in to retrieve the child. The supervisor told her to have a nearby swimmer check.

The supervisor told police “guests get angry when lifeguards enter the pool for non-emergency situations,” the report said. It also quoted the supervisor as saying he thought at first that the child was playing.

“We feel on our part our guards did the best they could with the situation,” [Resort spokesperson] said. “Obviously, at the time, it didn't seem like trouble.”

Ambulance personnel arrived shortly after the boy was pulled from the pool and took over the efforts to revive him. He was pronounced dead after being taken to [name] Hospital.

[Name], communications director for the state Department of Health and Family Services, said her department's initial findings indicate the pool met or exceeded requirements for the number of lifeguards, and those on duty had undergone the required training.

[Resort spokesman] said the resort has made life jackets more readily available since the drowning. They had been stored in one spot but now hang on walls around the park.

“We purchased additional life jackets for all our water parks,” [Resort spokesman] said.

The boy's parents, [name], were at the park with their son last week. They chose not to comment.

“We're heartbroken by the incident,” [Resort spokesman] said. “Our sympathies and hearts go out to them.”



Southeast City - 6/19/07: Lifeguards saved a 17-year-old girl from drowning in a pool Saturday afternoon at [name] amusement park.

The girl was pulled from the main pool at the park by park lifeguards, said spokeswoman [name].

The lifeguards performed CPR on the girl, whose name was not released, and [City] Fire Rescue took her to [name] Hospital.

“They were doing their job, and they did their job quickly and responded,” [spokeswomen] said.

It's unclear what happened, but the girl's family said she has a history of seizures, [spokeswomen] said.

The pool, which slopes from 4 to 10 feet, features a cliff jumping area.

Read the articles and ask yourself in both situations:

  • Did the lifeguards recognize a swimmer who is in trouble?
  • Did they follow the rule: if you don’t know, GO!
  • Was there an effective activation of the facility’s emergency action system?
  • Was there effective communication between staff and any other rescuers?
  • Was there an effective and safe rescue of the victim?
  • Did the staff appropriately identify emergency medical needs and provide appropriate care?
  • Did each facility show appropriate empathy and caring?

Are your guards effectively trained to deal with a passive victim rescue?

  • In-service training should include the following:
    • Rapid recognition of a swimmer who is in trouble in the water.
    • Effective activation of your facility’s emergency action system.
    • Effective communication between staff and others.
    • Reaching the swimmer rapidly.
    • Assessing needs regarding:
      • Removing the swimmer from the water.
      • Assessing breathing and circulation.
      • Based upon the swimmer’s breathing condition, clearing airway obstructions.
      • Performing rescuing breathing.
      • Providing supplemental oxygen.
      • Performing CPR.
      • Deploying an AED.

A Suggested Drill:

  • Preparation, review:
    • How to recognize a victim rather than recover one.
    • Rapid response and extraction of a victim in distress.
    • Assessing airway, breathing, and circulation.
    • Rescue breathing, and clearing airway obstruction.
    • Performing CPR, use of supplemental oxygen, and use of an AED.
    • Available equipment, protocols, and safety precautions.
    • The importance of teamwork and communication.
  • Conducting the drill
    • Have lifeguards assume positions at lifeguard stations.
    • Select one staff member to act as the victim in distress, and several lifeguards or other staff members to act as additional guests. Options: silhouette, dummy drops or red ball
    • Explain to the lifeguards when the drill is to begin.
    • Record the individual response times and actions of lifeguards for recognizing the “victim,” responding to the incident, and performing the rescue.
    • Record the individual actions of lifeguards for life-saving procedures.
  • Evaluate your staff
    • Did the lifeguards communicate appropriately with each other? If not, what were their weaknesses?
    • How long did it take the primary lifeguard to notice the problem and respond? Rate the lifeguard’s level of attentiveness in scanning.
    • How long did it take a lifeguard to reach the victim? Rate the lifeguard’s performance.
    • Did the lifeguard(s) execute the rescue efficiently and effectively?
    • How did the lifeguards perform overall? Did they respond to priorities in the correct order? Did they ensure their own safety, as well as that of the other guests and victim?
    • Review post incident report for accuracy.
  • Talk about the drill with your staff
    • Discuss the positive and negative actions.
    • Give the times on how long it took for each lifeguard to properly respond to the incident.
    • Discuss the effect of each lifeguard’s response time on the victim.
    • Each lifeguard should detail the ways he or she can improve his or her performance.

Read Incident 1 and 2 again…what will be the outcome at your YMCA?

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.


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