Water Safety

The Gorilla in your Pool!

This is definitely not a Gorilla in the swimming pool !

This is definitely not a Gorilla in the swimming pool !

Sometimes things just “hit you in the face” and you know you have to stick your head above the parapet and hopefully encourage some debate or fresh thinking.

Every week I visit a lot of pools the length and breadth of the country, encouraging others to consider the use of technology in their own swimming pools.

I often arrive with a little time to spare (and normally anonymously), grab a coffee and sit down with the laptop which I ignore and I watch the Lifeguards and the swimmers before I meet a member of management.

Always there in the quiet times - off peak to use the old terminology - low bather loads - very very low sometimes - but often less than a dozen people in the pool.

I am in a very unique position because of “what I do” with technology (some might say unfortunately) by having access to footage of quite a few “near misses” and tragically too many actual fatalities, which have all occurred in publicly lifeguarded swimming pools in the UK and Ireland.

As our installation rates increase the law of averages dictates that I will get more and more to review as more systems get commissioned and the use of technology to partner lifeguards (Blended Lifeguarding) becomes more prevalent!

It has actually made me pause and take stock and consider a few things that I see in front of me - different factors - different questions - different thinking.

As I have said many many times - Lifeguarding professionalism has changed from the heady days in 1983 when I passed my RLSS Bronze Medallion. Well I remember the launch of the new Pool Lifeguard qualification in the mid eighties - my goodness we thought we knew it all back then - untouchable and awesome as we all were!

Lifeguard qualifications have become more and more sophisticated over the years and certainly very professional. The new excellent RLSS 9th Edition demonstrates that, but I do believe that we should already be considering, where we are going next?

When I talk to and train Lifeguards, I always tell them that there are very very few “help me - help me” movie rescues.

Fact - in the vast majority of all drowning incidents I review, the victim was swimming normally until those last few vital seconds. Very few Lifeguards I believe would have spotted any signs at all - particularly given the recognition skills they have been taught.

I wrote in my blog in April 17 ”When a drowning happens again - and it will - in all probability, this will be the quietest and most “unremarkable” 120 seconds of their (a lifeguards) career - after that - Life will NEVER be the same!”

In fact - 99% of the footage I am privileged enough to have access to re-enforces that completely.

In my opinion - each near miss that I have seen has been preceded by some sort of medical event, should it be Hypoxic Blackout, Heart Attack or an Epileptic Fit for example.

In the United States, the only demographic which has shown an increase in fatalities in pools in the last 10 years is unsurprisingly in the upper end of the age range. We are living longer, taking more pills and exercising more, so the chances are that the probability of a medical event occurring in the swimming pool has also increased.

So how can we improve our Lifeguards recognition skills?

The 10:20 scan - for some time this has bothered me a little - I’m ok with a rescue in 30 seconds - but from what I see that is a rarity!

I don’t as yet have an answer or an alternative - but I believe we need to revisit it with some science? Link it to the actual abilities of a human mind, attention spans, zone of responsibility and training etc. 

I am obviously an advocate of detection systems in swimming pools and I am wondering should we lifeguard in a different way when such technology is in situ? How do we harmonise the concept of “Blended Lifeguarding” to make pools even safer. We are only at the the beginning of this journey, but I am already thinking that we need to re-think how we Lifeguard under such circumstances.

I also wonder when technology isn’t available - do we want Lifeguards having “identical” roles and responsibilities? For example - when two or more Lifeguards are present, should one have a scanning responsibility and the other a swimmer engageent responsibility? One who interacts with the public freely, patrols and assesses - the other fixed and scanning?

Now I should say and re-enforce something here - what I get to see does not happen very often. I have no way of knowing the number of good interventions from switched on Lifeguards that have occurred which, have prevented a “chain of unbroken events” leading to a near miss or a tragedy - I think that is something that MUST be acknowledged!

I raise these questions because we always want to get better, to raise the bar and to make a difference and question the how’s and why’s. Continuous improvement.

Have a look at these notes from my latest observations

In all of the incidents a member of the public raised the alarm!

Other swimmers swam over or beside the victim and didn’t notice!

The pools had very low bather loads!

No victims cried out in any of them!

All incidents seemed to follow a medical event (two shallow water blackout)!

Post rescue

CPR was slow to start (always over 1 minute)!

Plenty of staff made it to poolside very very quickly 6+ usually always with a defibrillator!

No-one “appeared” to be in charge - I didn’t see someone standing back and taking stock and directing!

What can we re-think to improve modern Lifeguarding?

We certainly need to revisit the 10:20 scan concept

We need to share examples with lifeguards of what drowning actually looks like (a written page or two in a manual isn’t suffice)

This can only benefit their Victim Recognition Skills which I believe needs to be improved and prioritised. This will be difficult as in ALL of the near misses and fatalities that I have witnessed - only two look the same! I can only surmise that the more data I gather over time, the more similarities I will find.

For me - this phrase that Gary Johnson of Pool Super Vision shared with me, says more than an entire page of words!

“if you’re not looking for a gorilla, you won’t see a gorilla and.....

if you’re not looking for a drowning person, you won’t see a drowning person

We do need to “get real” with our response to incident training - CPR practice in a dry squash court is all well and good, but I don’t think the majority of our Lifeguards are trained with pressurised and realistic simulations like every other emergency response discipline and has been embraced in Australia.

Our young Lifeguards could and should be better prepared for the event that they continually train for but, might never happen!

#thisisnotagame #blendedlifeguarding #letsgetreal

Prevention is better than Cure - Scottish Seminar 2018

Prevention is cure Flyer 2018.jpg

Delighted to be invited to speak in Scotland at the 2018 Swimming Pool Seminar.

Helen Meckiffe and Robin McGloughlin will be covering the use of Drowning Detection systems in Swimming Pools and Improving the Effectiveness of Lifeguard Training.

If you are interested in attending - register your interest on line via the contact page on the Pioneering Pool Solutions website

2018 State of Aquatics Broadcast

Every year, several organizations gather their aquatic staff to collectively watch the State of Aquatics broadcast from the USA Where you one of them?

Redwoods had more than 1,000 attendees on the line this year. If you'd like to learn more about the trends that they identified from their aquatic investigations this year, a recording of the broadcast is available below.

Well worth the time to watch..........

2018 State of Aquatics Broadcast

Our 2018 State of Aquatics broadcast was meant to serve as a call to action. We have had 10 aquatic events at customers' pools since Memorial Day. Watch our broadcast below to learn more about the 3 trends we have identified so far this year. You will also see security footage of actual drownings. Our panelists this year were Michael Oostman, Aquatic Safety Consulting, Inc. and Tonya Roy, The Redwoods Group.

Poolview Plus+ and Water Clarity

Standing on the deck of your pool, looking down into it - looking across - you can see the lane lines, even the grout lines, water sparkling - crystal clear you think.

Perhaps not!

We arrive on site sometimes, drop a camera in to look across the the pool and the “fog” appears after lane 4.

If the camera can’t see - we can’t detect - simple

Sometimes the incredulous look from the Manager as he/she says “but my water readings are perfect, Free Chlorine is 1.5ppm (mg/l) my combined is 0.5 and my total 2.0 - how can that be?” 

Often at this stage the Manager can get quite defensive (as well as a little hurt)

I often thought that maintaining pool water was a little bit of a “black art”, it takes someone with a keen interest in water chemistry, a sound knowledge of the plant room and of course well trained.

It’s the sign of the times that so very few swimming pools have their own dedicated “plant man” much of the duties fall into the laps of the already over stretched Duty Managers who may only “tip a nod” to the pool and do the water tests as trained.

So it is not so surprising that there are not so many on site who are well informed about turbidity (how many sites have a turbidity meter?)

So to try and explain a little more about turbidity and WHY we sometimes can’t see through water, I asked the man who knows more about swimming pool water than anyone else I have ever met - my friend and  colleague Robin Mitchell from Pioneering Pool Solutions who had this to say:-

Robin Mitchell and Robin McGloughlin

Robin Mitchell and Robin McGloughlin

Turbidity in swimming pools is the measure of relative clarity of the pool water. The more suspended solids in the water the cloudier it appears and thus the higher the turbidity.  In short, turbidity is a measure of how cloudy the water is?

To measure turbidity in a swimming pool we use a term called nephelometric turbidity units or in short NTU’s.  The upper limit for swimming pools is 0.5NTU.  PWTAG recommend testing for turbidity regularly, using a turbidity meter. 

Should a swimming pool suffer from clarity issues and you are not able to see clearly across the pool with the cameras, a turbidity test would certainly be advisable

Establishing the cause of poor clarity is not often straightforward as it can be one or a combination of a number of factors.

In my experience however the 3 most common causes are these:-

  • Not using a coagulant or inefficient use of coagulants

Continuous flocculation is a process of binding impurities in the swimming pool water into larger particles which are big enough to be trapped in the filtration system. 

To do this we use a coagulant called Polyaluminium (PAC). 

Not dosing PAC appropriately can lead to cloudy water.  

Too little or too much or not being dosed continuously or even being used by hand through the strainer basket as opposed to constant dosing from an appropriate sized dosing pump.

Check that your coagulant dosing system is working correctly and ensure that the coagulant is being dosed at a rate of 0.1ml/m3 of the pool circulation rate

This leads us nicely into a second cause which is often high on the list:-

  • Poor circulation

If the inlets and surface draw off are not performing to the optimum, the pool water will not receive enough treatment and therefore turbidity can increase.  Should the turnover period be too long, this can also affect the clarity as the pool water will not be filtered within the recommended time. Many operators “turn down” the speed of their pumps to save on energy costs which will compound this problem.

You need to ensure a working flow meter is present in the plant room.  Aim for a 2.5 hour turnover period for a standard 25m pool.  Conduct a dye test prior to opening a pool or after refurbishment works have been carried out - ideally a dye test should be conducted at least once every 5 years

The third cause is often this:-

  • Having a poor backwashing regime

If the backwashing rate is poor or the process is not effective the filter media may not be cleaned properly after the backwash is conducted.  

This can lead to cloudy pool water seeping into the pool and/or the filters being inefficient?

You need to ensure the backwash rate follows the manufacturer instructions.  Only backwash the pool at the end of the working day unless dealing with gross contamination

Backwashes should be carried out when the pressure differential’s indicates that the filter is dirty. Normally when there is a difference of 0.5 bar of pressure between the inlet and outlet pressure gauges. It is expected that filters will require a backwash at least once per week

There are as I said other causes of high turbidity and these I can summarise as this:-

  • Ineffective or insufficient disinfectant – Should the chlorine level in the pool be very low bacteria can accumulate and cause the water to appear cloudy.  Also if the pH is too high the chlorine will not work effectively and again bacteria can accumulate within the pool water.

Cure - Test the pool water to ensure chlorine and pH levels are within the PWTAG guidelines?  Rectify levels that are out with parameters.

  • Poor filtration – lack of filter media, mud balling, undulations and channeling in the sand/glass media can cause issues with clarity and turbidity.

Cure - The use of medium rate filtration should be encouraged, as per PWTAG Guidelines.  Annual filter inspections will allow issues to be established at an early opportunity and subsequently allow operators to take action to resolve filtration problems.

  • High organics and chloramines Swimming pools with high levels of urine pollution are susceptible to high organic chloramines which can promote poor water clarity.

Cure - Improve pre swim hygiene regime, use of showers and toilets.   Install Ultra Violet radiation.  Ensure dilution rates equate to 30litres per bather per day.

  • High TDS - If TDS levels are more than 1000mg/l above source water levels the pool water may suffer from poor clarity and a salty metallic taste

Cure - Check sulphate and chloride levels as per PWTAG guidance (recommended sulphate levels <360mg/l)?  Ensure dilution rates equate to 30litres per bather per day, normally achieved through regular backwashing

  • Excessive water hardnessSwimming pools in hard water areas can suffer from high levels of calcium and carbonates, this can lead to murky water. 

Cure - Test source water to establish Calcium and alkalinity levels.  Try not to raise calcium levels above 300mg/l and alkalinity levels above 150mg/l

Very useful information from Robin Mitchell whom you contact directly for a no obligation chat on +44 7540 295234 or email rmitchell@pioneeringpoolsolutions.co.uk

From this you can hopefully understand that the usefulness and the effectiveness of a Poolview Plus+ Drowning Detection Systems is reliant on having excellent water clarity.

Having spoken with a few Ops Managers and General Managers over the past while who had suffered from clarity issues, they have all said roughly the same thing. It is about being proactive - thinking ahead before busy periods, turning up the PAC a notch or backwashing at the optimum time. Follow the PWTAG guidelines and most problems can be readily resolved.

Maybe it isn't rocket science?

Drowning Prevention Week - 16th - 26th June 2017

Drowning Prevention Week - 16th - 26th June 2017

Drowning Prevention Week - 16th - 26th June 2017

Those of you who follow us will be well aware that I unfortunately post on a much to regular basis about dreadful drowning tragedies that occur during the hot summer days and holiday season.  How often do we hear about the senseless loss of life at the beach, in a river, lake, back garden or holiday resort swimming pool?

I have a personal friend whose child tragically drowned in their hotel pool less than SIXTY minutes after they arrived – can you even begin to imagine the anguish and heartache?

Many parents will be entertaining their children over the summer months in all of these places and we are unfortunately reminded all too often that water can be incredible dangerous if carers don’t take proper safety precautions to ensure their children’s safety. In support of Drowning Prevention Week (16-26 June 2017), a campaign organised by the Royal Life Saving Society UK, Poolview Ltd have prepared this infographic on water safety and keeping your children safe over the summer months.

Keeping your child safe in water

As simple as it sounds – children MUST have constant supervision around water and that even includes the bath.  This means keeping your eye on them at all times! This means “forget your mobile phone – Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – email etc. etc.”

Holiday fatalities in foreign countries and new pools tend to happen on the 1st day in the 1st few hours, when the excitement has built to fever pitch with masses of distractions, suddenly your wee Jonny is out of sight – out of depth and at the bottom of a murky pool!

Rivers and lakes hold untold dangers, hot days 24 degrees and cold 4-degree water can put the body into shock and tragedy unfolds.  Not forgetting the hidden dangers that lie beneath the surface including frighteningly fast currents and shopping trollies!  Lakes and rivers look so benign and inviting – peaceful and placid – they can be waiting to “suck you in”.
 

Here are 10 tips to keep children safe when in or near water

Stop a chain of events occurring which will bring a personal tragedy to your own front door. Children can drown in less than 6cm of water so that includes buckets of water, ditches, large puddles, inflatable pools… anywhere a pool of water can form.  

1) If your child can’t swim make sure you use approved flotation devices that are correct for your child’s weight and height. 

2) If your child can swim they are still at risk and they must still be supervised in water within arm’s reach to provide ‘touch supervision’.

3) Learn to swim, an obvious one but we hear of parents taking their children swimming and watching or paddling from the side as they are unable to swim.  

4) From the age of 1 you can teach your baby to swim. Participation in formal swim lessons can reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%.

5) Ensure your child drinks plenty of fluids even when they are in the water to prevent dehydration which could cause dizziness or nausea.  

6) Make sure you test the water temperature before you enter the water. Your body temperature drops more quickly in water and can quickly move to hypothermia (when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it). If a child is shivering or has muscle cramps, get him or her out of the water immediately.

7) Don’t bathe or swim in unfamiliar waters without checking for the dangers. How deep? If you don’t know, don’t go.

8) Leave your mobile phone alone – you are there to supervise. Never leave a child unattended in or near water.

9) Have your child swim where there is a lifeguard.

10) Learn CPR (attend a class if you can). In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills can save a life.

#DPW #stopdrowning #makeadifference #supportinglifeguards

Drowning Prevention Week - 16th - 26th June 2017

Not in MY Back Yard

It has been a strange weekend!

On Friday night an incident occurred in the swimming pool at one of my local leisure Centres within my Council area - one I know quite well.

Unfortunately and sadly a young 20 year old man died in the local hospital a short time later.

Now at this stage as you would expect - details are pretty thin on the ground but my thoughts go to the family and of course the staff. The centre at time of writing was still closed.

What prompted this article was "local" reaction to the incident.

I have been involved in Drowning Prevention since the early 80's when I first donned a whistle and lifeguard uniform (along with very uncomfortable flip flops).

I first installed Drowning Prevention Technology (DPT) in the swimming pool at the local leisure centre on which I project managed the build for the Council in 2001 (it has since been switched off)

I became involved in "selling" DPT in 2008 before finally forming Poolview Limited in partnership with Paul Brown late 2012.

My personal Facebook page is "littered" with warning posts I share following a tragedy, fatality, near miss etc.

So it's fair to say locally I would be known as the guy whose specialist subject on "Mastermind" would be drowning prevention!

Now to the point!

No matter what occurs around the UK in terms of a drowning or near miss - it is only on a very very rare occasion that someone will make comment to me about the tragedy.

Over the weekend, I have had more texts, phone calls and emails about this one incident, that occurred in a pool which is a 30 minute drive away, than I have had in the preceding 9 years!

So is it "Out of sight - out of mind?"

It is probably like much that goes on in the world today - it's only when it happens closer to home that people "sit up and take notice!"

In parts of the UK - amongst senior management - attitude to drowning is frighteningly relaxed - i.e. We have never had one! All the more worrying when the poor TA is pulling their hair out because of horrendous glare problems - but no-one listens!

This week I was talking to a local authority who are spending in excess of £30million on a new swimming pool and leisure centre - not only will they not even consider the use of DPT - they WON'T even future proof the pool by installing a couple of thousand pounds worth of camera niches!

There is no doubt the "Early Adopters" are blazing a trail here, but my goodness the "Laggards" can be so frustrating with their blinkered views and "not in my backyard" thinking.

As I said - a strange weekend!

Blended Lifeguarding - thoughts from Australia with Gary Johnson

Blended Lifeguarding - by Gary Johnson

On 6th March I wrote an article "championing" the phrase Blended Lifeguarding. Gary Johnson (See Clearly Now) the creator of Pool Super Vision™ in Australia was kind enough to to contribute his thinking and has now expanded on this through his own excellent blog.

Please follow this link and read the full article which, as always, is very thought provoking and insightful.

Blended Lifeguarding by Gary Johnson

‘Prevent drowning and prepare for drowning; do everything in your power to prevent it and then prepare your team like it’s inevitable’. – Gary Johnson

Blended Lifeguarding - Thoughts from Robin McGloughlin

Blended Lifeguarding - The Future ............

Definition of ‘Blended Lifeguarding’

Have you ever been looking for a word or a key phrase to describe something, but just couldn’t quite grab the right terminology from your memory banks or creative thinking to ‘tick the box’? I have been “suffering” with this dilemma for quite some time now, trying to find a simple phrasal verb that would express what Poolview Ltd is all about!

I recently wrote a couple of articles, “I don’t want my Lifeguards to rely on technology” and “Technology & Lifeguards - Water & Oil” which express my thinking, but I couldn’t articulate this with a group of two or more words that communicated my single idea! 

Then out of the blue, a trusted industry acquaintance calls me and offers up ‘Blended Lifeguarding’ Eureka!

Here is my definition of what Blended Lifeguarding means.

Blended Lifeguarding is a technique which combines the traditional 10:20 scanning methods of pool supervision, safety and rescue with technology driven drowning detection and prevention systems. This creates a working practice which harmonises the best capabilities of each to produce a safer swimming environment for all.

When pulling my thoughts together for this, I was reminded of a methodology that was produced in the late 90’s by the then ISRM called the “Integrated Management System” for Leisure Centres. Simple idea - involved a fair bit of work to get it set up and running - but worked well. In simplistic terms, it utilised much of what we already did and of course knew, but it blended our knowledge and work practices and integrated everything together to produce an efficient and effective management framework.

Similarly, today, it really does not take much imagination to realise that we mustn’t separate the two resources that we can have on poolside i.e. well trained lifeguards and drowning prevention technology. There is a good marriage to be had there

When I spoke with author Gary Johnson of “See Clearly Now- Aquatic Risk Management” in Australia he said:

“Doing CPR is a lottery. You can do everything right and still lose a life, you could do everything wrong and save a life. The one thing we do know is that the sooner we start CPR, the more likely it is that the person will make a recovery. There are many studies concluding that lack of supervision is the main cause of most fatal drownings. In a lifeguarded environment, one of the underlying causes is the time it took to detect the drowning person. In court cases, time and time again, we see a lifeguard’s inability to detect a drowning person soon enough become the soft point of any defence. In civil litigation, this is rarely left unexploited. The accusation being that your lifeguards failed because they aren’t well trained, in fact they’re incompetent and by association, so are you, their supervisor or manager.

Not only is detecting a drowning below the water difficult because of things like glare and line of sight, the human issues are immense and only recently beginning to be understood. Sometimes lifeguards don’t get it ‘right’, not because they’re bad lifeguards but because they’re human. Humans have a failure rate; even vigilant, well trained humans have a failure rate. It might be lower but they have one. No one should be surprised by this.

So while ever we rely on bare human detection, we’ll have fatal and non-fatal drowning at public swimming facilities. If we’re serious about protecting swimmers, protecting lifeguards and protecting industry professionals then blended lifeguarding needs to be a consideration. The more affordable these technologies become the more difficult it will be to demonstrate due diligence without them.”

I also asked a number of leisure professionals for their comments and this is what they added:

Steve Goddard - Head of Leisure Services in South Norfolk says,

“Modern lifeguarding is a skill that is enhanced by the technology available to us that in days gone by was a distant dream for operators. By in-bedding a robust RLSS/NPLQ qualification and training regime, aligned with drowning prevention technology the risks associated with managing pools are significantly reduced. The confidence of guaranteeing 100% underwater visibility and coverage in all conditions and eradicating the constant challenge of internal and external glare (creating blind spots), is invaluable. When technology is integrated into staff training, this builds a formidable “Blended Lifeguarding” system to combat historical, operational challenges. I would not be without it. “

George Lampshire – Safety & Quality Manager

“For years, we as Operators of Pool facilities have wrestled with visibility issues such as glare, reflection, changing seasons and Lifeguard positioning. Despite all those issues being overcome, clarity of activity under the water is disturbed as soon as bathers break the surface. technology gives Lifeguards the ability to clearly see and understand what’s going under the surface. Blended Lifeguarding gives Lifeguards the methodology to combine their skill set with technology which in turn gives them a greater opportunity to pick up issues earlier. 

Donna Bristoll - Operations Manager – MCIMSPA

“Exciting times as the practice of lifeguarding moves forwards and progresses.  As a trainer, I deliver and ensure new and existing lifeguards have the practical skills and knowledge to supervise and observe pools competently, but know that some of them will have the benefit and support of full underwater vision and aids to assist their decision to take action, and evidenced support in the follow up stages. This blend of practical skills, knowledge and technology, is a positive move forward, for lifeguards and the management of lifeguards.”

David Monkhouse – Director – Leisure-net

"Having been a lifeguard who got wet through the line of duty and who also carried out CPR on 4 customers in his career, I would always come back to the people element. The emotional turmoil of these events to customers, family and team is massive. Anything we can do to help reduce the number of times this occurs, we should take. Drowning Detection Technology alone will not stop it happening, nor will it get the customer out of the water. Blended Lifeguarding will reduce the number of times a minor issue escalates to something none of us wants to experience."

Andy Read - Head of Safety - Places for People Leisure Management

The simplicity of the “Blended Lifeguarding” concept is very straightforward as we take what we have already in place ......a 'well trained and qualified Lifeguard' and combine this with ever improving drowning prevention and detection technology. The mix of the two togetherproduces a more robust layer of safety protection and awareness.

All very encouraging comments and it will be very interesting to see what and where this leads us to (if anywhere), but for me personally, it hopefully will reinforce my message that pool supervision and the safety of swimmers is not about a choice between Lifeguards OR Technology, it is simply not an either/or question but rather a “how”?

·      How can we make best use of our Lifeguards abilities?

·      How can we make best use of the technology available?

·      How can we best integrate our Lifeguards and Technology into our day to day to routines?

My hope is that we can promote the concept of ‘Blended Lifeguarding’ in the hope that it will become an accepted working terminology and methodology from now and into the future.

Poolview Limited - What is Blended Lifeguarding?

Blend - put or combine (abstract things) together.

Technology - a scientific or industrial process, invention, method, or the like.

Lifeguard - an expert swimmer employed to protect bathers from drowning or other accidents.

At Poolview, we are harmonizing Technology and the role of the Lifeguard to improve swimmer safety and increase efficiency, thus supporting fully trained Lifeguards with their responsibilities

 

What to Do: Car Sinking in Water, You have only SECONDS to react

I originally posted this in March of last year following a tragic accident in Ireland. As the winter is now really due to set in with a cold snap and further storms which draw us close to water to observe "mother nature", I thought I would re-post and remind everyone of the dangers and how to escape a sinking car if you do get caught.

So once again it is worth watching this video with original footage from ABC News

It could save yours and your family's life!

The Resqme Car Escape Tool you can get on Amazon for just £10 - Hang it from the rear-view mirror!

ResQMe

ResQMe

Poolview - Ignorance is NOT Bliss

I count myself really lucky in the role I have in Poolview Ltd. I get to travel around the country - visiting swimming pools, talking to Lifeguards, Supervisors, Plant Engineers, Duty Managers, General Managers, Contract Managers, Directors, Architects, Structural Engineers, Water Experts, Manufacturers, Governing Bodies, Drowning Prevention Experts and Technologists, actually the list goes on and on - it’s quite impressive when I write it down and look and realise that I really am blessed to be ‘allowed’ into many of these people’s lives.

What binds us all together (whether some of them want it or not!) is my drive to constantly push the notion of Drowning Prevention Technology (DPT) to support Lifeguards, to maybe somehow stop a tragedy occurring in someone’s pool and avert the heartache for all the unfortunate individuals that may get caught up in the subsequent ramifications.

"It will never happen here"

I have written about how the most effective layer of protection can be added within the pools design - long before a sod of turf has even been cut.

Sometimes though, something happens that makes me stop and think about the ‘BIGGER’ picture, about the importance of each element, understanding that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

What am I getting at here?

Let me elaborate, what if every pool in the country was of an identical design?  The best you can get in terms of perfect water, lines of sight, zero glare, the best DPT that exists etc. etc. in other words NO design flaws - No faults - you get my drift?  Would outcomes be any different? Fewer fatalities or near misses?

In my opinion - not really, well not significantly.

So what would cause the inconsistency?

You have probably concluded correctly - we do – ‘us individuals’.

Let me put this on record - I’m a fan of the RLSS and always have been. Since I did my Bronze Medallion in 1981 - stumbled into the industry as a Lifeguard without a care or worry in the world!

The RLSS works tirelessly to raise standards, to ensure that the effectiveness of lifeguards with their qualification is second to none in the world. Constantly reviewing and fine tuning the NPLQ, ‘Guarding Lives - Saving Lives’.

So how come when I go into facilities, watch Lifeguards, read NOP’s and EAP’s, talk to management and staff - both on and off record that I hear and see so many inconsistencies?

Any Lifeguard with an NPQL has a brilliant resource behind them - a handbook second to none - almost step by step guidance to cover every eventuality. The Trainer Assessors have an excellent and evolving training package to work from and this coupled with drive and enthusiasm should be producing consistent, effective and excellent highly trained Lifeguards. -

Here is where I think the root of the problem lies – complacency:

“It will never happen here”

“We have never had a fatality”

“No-one has drowned here in 30 years”

“We have it covered - don’t you worry”

All of the above have been said to me personally on my travels (although only on very odd occasions).  Thankfully - fatalities in lifeguarded swimming pools are rare events in the UK.  Swimming is relatively low risk in the big scheme of things.

You know what though?  If you haven’t had a drowning or near drowning, you’re lucky and on the right side of probability - you might be due one.  So Lifeguards need to stay alert, be well drilled and trained, TOTALLY conversant with their NOP’s and EAP’s, understand the consequences of ‘bad lifeguarding’ and of course have the complete support of management. It’s difficult to beat an enjoyable, productive and inclusive series of staff training sessions?

There is by their very nature a greater exchange of best practice and continuity of standards amongst the larger ‘private’ leisure operators – how best to share these benefits between individual authorities is something to consider – cluster groups maybe?

We as an industry need to find a method of exchanging “near miss” information. In this way, we can keep the “It will never happen here” thoughts pushed firmly to the back. Again, this is where I am very fortunate. I get to hear on my travels many many “near miss” stories – these actually form the back bone of my Poolview training sessions – they are real and help push the message home to unsuspecting lifeguards.

We shouldn’t perhaps just let out a sigh of relief after a “near miss”, should we have a forum to “share lessons learned” or the “cause”? To make it REAL

Becoming a Lifeguard by passing an exam is only the start of a journey. The hardest and most important lessons learned comes from participation in different situations. The things we learn in real-life can never be learned from only books.

Surely Lifeguards can only benefit from hearing about “actual” incidents which really happened, how they unfolded and what the subsequent consequences were?

I remember being at a seminar session a few years ago which focused on three unfortunate UK fatalities in lifeguarded swimming pools. The entire forum dissected every single second and aspect of the incidents following the victims recovery from the water, right through to the inquest.

I remember leaving feeling empty and let down as not one speaker spoke about the most important aspect of each incident.

The 180 seconds before the rescue!

This is the information we need to share – ignorance is NOT bliss

Poolview Safer Swimmer System Video - Part 2

We were fortunate enough to spend a few hours filming in a 1.2metre constant depth 25 metre swimming pool courtesy of Places For People Leisure last week.  We created a short video to help visualise how the main components of our Poolview Safer Swimmer System works together.

It demonstrates how invaluable this type of equipment is in supporting Lifeguards and assisting them with the early detection of incidents in the swimming pool BEFORE they become more serious.  In this instance you will see a Shallow Water Blackout re-enactment and also a situation where an unconscious child is discovered.

You can also view a more detailed explanatory video of the system here entitled 'The Poolview Safer Swimmer System Part 1'.

Water Safety: Tips to Keep Your Children Safe Over the Summer Months

Those of you who follow us will be well aware that I unfortunately post on a much to regular basis about dreadful drowning tragedies that occur during the hot summer days and holiday season.  How often do we hear about the senseless loss of life at the beach, in a river, lake, back garden or holiday resort swimming pool?

I have a personal friend whose child tragically drowned in their hotel pool less than SIXTY minutes after they arrived – can you even begin to imagine the anguish and heartache?

Many parents will be entertaining their children over the summer months in all of these places and we are unfortunately reminded all too often that water can be incredible dangerous if carers don’t take proper safety precautions to ensure their children’s safety. In support of Drowning Prevention Week (18-26 June 2016), a campaign organised by the Royal Life Saving Society UK, Poolview Ltd have prepared this infographic on water safety and keeping your children safe over the summer months.

Swimming safety facts and tips infographic

Keeping your child safe in water

As simple as it sounds – children MUST have constant supervision around water and that even includes the bath.  This means keeping your eye on them at all times! This means “forget your mobile phone – Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – email etc. etc.”

Holiday fatalities in foreign countries and new pools tend to happen on the 1st day in the 1st few hours, when the excitement has built to fever pitch with masses of distractions, suddenly your wee Jonny is out of sight – out of depth and at the bottom of a murky pool!

Rivers and lakes hold untold dangers, hot days 24 degrees and cold 4-degree water can put the body into shock and tragedy unfolds.  Not forgetting the hidden dangers that lie beneath the surface including frighteningly fast currents and shopping trollies!  Lakes and rivers look so benign and inviting – peaceful and placid – they can be waiting to “suck you in”.
 

Here are 10 tips to keep children safe when in or near water

Stop a chain of events occurring which will bring a personal tragedy to your own front door. Children can drown in less than 6cm of water so that includes buckets of water, ditches, large puddles, inflatable pools… anywhere a pool of water can form.  

1) If your child can’t swim make sure you use approved flotation devices that are correct for your child’s weight and height. 

2) If your child can swim they are still at risk and they must still be supervised in water within arm’s reach to provide ‘touch supervision’.

3) Learn to swim, an obvious one but we hear of parents taking their children swimming and watching or paddling from the side as they are unable to swim.  

4) From the age of 1 you can teach your baby to swim. Participation in formal swim lessons can reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%.

5) Ensure your child drinks plenty of fluids even when they are in the water to prevent dehydration which could cause dizziness or nausea.  

6) Make sure you test the water temperature before you enter the water. Your body temperature drops more quickly in water and can quickly move to hypothermia (when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it). If a child is shivering or has muscle cramps, get him or her out of the water immediately.

7) Don’t bathe or swim in unfamiliar waters without checking for the dangers. How deep? If you don’t know, don’t go.

8) Leave your mobile phone alone – you are there to supervise. Never leave a child unattended in or near water.

9) Have your child swim where there is a lifeguard.

10) Learn CPR (attend a class if you can). In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills can save a life.

#DPW #stopdrowning #makeadifference #supportinglifeguards

Technology and Lifeguarding – Water and Oil

Research & D_edited-1.jpg

Here's the thing – as the inclusion of Drowning Prevention Systems (DPS) within swimming pools becomes more “normal” and accepted as good working practice, I’m still always asked what others opinions are about making use of technology to facilitate lifeguarding and can you really mix the two?

Lifeguarding and Technology – some dichotomy? Sitting in the sun today pondering this conundrum, wondering if there is anything I can assimilate it with?  Maybe not exactly but let me tell you a true story……

‘Many’ years ago, I had the audacity to buy the 1st ever PC within my local authority – not just into leisure, but the whole Council – period! The animosity, incredulous talk and bewildered expressions I found to be amazing.

“What do you want one of THOSE things for?” I was repeatedly asked. “Well I can type up my own memos for starters” I replied.

“Forget it, we are sticking to the traditional method of dictation, playback and type up, offer for edit and re-type the page – what’s wrong with that? It will never catch on!” Now as for spreadsheets – finance nearly had a “blue fit!” Rolling the eyes skyward and muttering about the abacus.

Just to bring total anarchy to the Council, I ordered a phone line from BT to bring in a taste of the internet (well that will never catch on either – what a waste of time and money!)

 

So what’s my point? I think that history shows us that change, the introduction of any new working practices which involve or require technology invariably meets with general indifference, scepticism and resistance by the majority. It takes time for the abnormal to become normal. It takes time for technology integration to become accepted. I wonder is that where we are with Lifeguarding and the use of Technology?

My “gut feel” at the moment is that the majority (although in ever decreasing numbers) believe that Lifeguarding and Technology use is an either/or question to be answered.
 “Shall we use Lifeguards or Technology?” Oil and Water? They can’t be mixed remember! And so – therein lies the problem, as they can!  

Unfortunately, many within the leisure industry believe that it is only one choice, or the other. Few recognise the “fusion” opportunity. Few recognise or understand that the use of technology (whatever platform or type that may be) is in fact an “additional tool” for the lifeguards.

It is an ‘additional layer of protection’.  It is an opportunity to increase safety, introduce efficiencies AND enhance your Lifeguards capabilities.

Technology for Lifeguards is here to stay. You would not believe the number of new build pools in the last 12 months where we have gone to site the day after hand-over and had to drill holes in a new pool to retro fit a system.

 

Many builders/designers and leisure operators said they considered technology two years ago and rejected inclusion. It is almost criminal these days to build a new pool and NOT include at the very least the containment to fit some sort of system in the future.

So, as I finish off this article on my iPad, I reflect on my comments when they first came out – what would I want with one of those – just a glorified iPhone – how wrong I was!  It’s not just about the iPad – it’s about what others have added to it, to add value and increase its functionality, much like including infrastructure in a new pool.  Others will follow and bring better and better systems and technology to enhance your pools safety and lifeguard capability.

We aim to be to stay at the forefront and continue to make a difference!  Don’t just take our word for it. #makingadifference #saferswimmingsystems

"I don't want my Lifeguards to rely on technology!"

I was on a poolside today, the oldest operational pool that exists in the UK today I am advised.

It opened in 1888. I wonder did the person who dreamt that crazy idea up ever think then where we would all be now?  The public wash house turning into a place of recreational activity!

We sure have come a long way!

Lifeguarding and swimmer safety has moved with the times and advances in qualifications and training techniques, promoted by organisations like the RLSS have surely saved many a life.

The tools of technology have also advanced, particularly in the last few years. The role of the Lifeguard can be helped – “tooled up” so to speak.

“I don’t want my Lifeguards to rely on technology”

Surprisingly enough, in this day and age with all the advances in technology this is a typical response from a thankfully decreasing number of leisure managers.

When I recently attended a meeting to discuss the use of technology to assist lifeguards when performing their duties, this sadly was one of the predictable responses I was up against. 

In contrast, my very next meeting, perhaps less than 50 miles away, I am told “Robin – do you see by 2020 – there is not going to be a pool in the country built which doesn’t have some form of Drowning Detection incorporated – seat belts mate – seat belts!”

Early adopters and fast followers do not need convincing of the advantages and benefits of introducing either Drowning Prevention or Drowning Detection Technology – no - it is the “laggards” and the “not in my pool” Managers, Directors, Accountants, Trainer Assessors, CEO’s etc. etc. who need a helping hand.

How do I go about this I wondered? Ask the “believers” I concluded.

Rather than writing a “Sales Pitch” about the benefits of Poolview™, SwimEye™, SenTag, Bluefox or any other technologies, I thought it best to simply ask a few responsible individuals to respond to the title question – I think their words say it all: 

“Modern lifeguarding is a skill that is enhanced by the technology available to us that in days gone by was a distant dream for operators. By in-bedding a robust RLSS/NPLQ qualification and training regime, aligned to an underwater camera system the risks associated with managing pools are significantly reduced. The confidence of guaranteeing 100% underwater visibility in all conditions and eradicating the constant challenge of internal and external glare (creating blind spots), is invaluable.

The cost of Poolview is competitive and when integrated into staff training builds a formidable system to combat historical, operational challenges. I would not be without it.“   Steve Goddard - Head of Leisure Services

"Underwater cameras, are not there for Lifeguards to rely on.  Lifeguards are still positioned on poolside for immediate response and nothing will replace the senses and trained performance. Poolview assists the lifeguards in opening up a different view on areas which may not be fully visible for several reasons -glare/reflection/surface disturbance from installed features-issues which are not thought of by designers and only become apparent once we as operators enter the building in it's 'completed' phase.  Lifeguards are trained to scan for 10 seconds; with Poolview this equates to 5 seconds scanning their zone, 5 seconds on the screen.  From experience, good training means lifeguards see it as an extension of their rescue equipment, not a TV.  Which means if, on the few occasions they find themselves without it, this is no way affects their ability to deliver effective pool supervision."

“Lifeguards do not 'manage' pools, they assist in the delivery and effective safety management.”  Donna Bristoll - Operations Manager - MCIMSPA

“Poolview provides Lifeguards with essential additional vision; it allows them to see beyond the surface of the water and identify hazards from all aspects and angles. Poolview is an great example of how technology can aid a workforce to overcome known problems which for years have been accepted or ignored. However, unlike other technological systems designed to aid drowning prevention Poolview does not undermine or supersede the ‘human’ aspect of Lifeguarding. Poolview alone could not save lives but combined with the trained skills of Lifeguards it is a robust system which undoubtedly enhances water safety.”   Helen Meckiffe – Contract Manager

“In an increasingly difficult time with modern build pools surrounded by windows, the positioning of the Lifeguard(s) has become an operational challenge. The Poolview system aids that process and has given us that ability to give our Lifeguards the essential element of Pool supervision; 100% visibility of their allocated zones.”  George Lampshire – Safety & Quality Manager

Words of wisdom from some seasoned and very respected leisure individuals.  Technology is here to stay – why ignore the opportunity to “make a difference?”

Drowning does not look like drowning!

The greatest misunderstanding of drowning, perpetuated by what we see on the telly, is that a drowning person actually does not look like a drowning person. Shouting and splashing? Doesn’t happen. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event.

Here’s a brutal statistic: Half of all children who will drown this year will drown within a few meters of their parents. Those parents will be completely unaware anything is wrong.

The Instinctive Drowning Response takes over and this is what happens:

1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.

2. Drowning people’s mouths sink below and reappear above the surface of the water in quick succession. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale and cry out for help. When drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface taking in water.

3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water permits drowning people to lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.

4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.

5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response, people’s bodies remain upright in the water with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water for 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

However, this doesn’t mean that a person who is yelling for help and thrashing isn’t in real trouble. They are experiencing aquatic distress. Not always present before the Instinctive Drowning Response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long. But unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in their own rescue by grabbing lifelines, throw rings, etc.

Look for these signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

• Head low in the water, mouth at water level
• Head tilted back with mouth open
• Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
• Eyes closed
• Hair over forehead or eyes
• Not using legs, vertical
• Hyperventilating or gasping
• Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
• Trying to roll over on their back
• Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder

Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking around for safety. One way to be sure is to ask them, “Are you all right?” If they can answer, they are probably OK. If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them to safety.

Parents, children playing in the water make noise. When they go quiet, you need to get to them and find out why.

Technology for non-Lifeguarded Swimming Pools

Many of us have read over the past week or so, the results from the inquest about the tragic swimming pool death of young Jane Bell, from Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, who died after getting into difficulty at the Dalmeny Hotel pool in St Annes, Lancashire on 14 August 2014.

A tragedy in it’s own right, but a greater tragedy simply because it could have been prevented.

The inquest heard that “there was no trained lifeguard on duty at the time”   Even though the alarm was raised – it appears that no-one could do anything to help in time.

Coroner, Mr Wilson told the hearing at Blackpool Town Hall there may have been a lack of focus on the welfare of people using the pool at the time and he questioned whether financial reasons were behind the lack of trained lifeguards.

In my experience the majority of hotels, spas and health clubs do operate with trained Lifeguards. However, the designated Lifeguards or Responders whilst on duty are more often than not tasked with many other duties to perform as part of their normal job description.

The RLSS provide a number of options and levels of qualifications for staff positioned within the leisure industry in situations such as this and described fully on their website www.rlss.org.uk - these are vital qualifications to have to help ensure the safety of your swimmers.

At Poolview Ltd we offer a range of technological safer swimming systems for every operational type, shape and size of pool.  The one single thing that we rely on to make ALL of our systems functional is a fully qualified and trained lifeguard or 1st Responder. Someone has to make the rescue!

All the alarms and alerts in the world can be “ringing aloud” – but if you don’t have a staff member who can get into the pool and effect a rescue – all systems fail!

Our technological solutions for non-lifeguarded swimming pools include Sentag, SwimEye™ and Bluefox. Each has its own merits, individual characteristics and methods by which an alarm is activated.  But most importantly, each will alert the designated lifeguard or responder (who is perhaps working in the gym, reception or even cleaning), to the fact that someone in their swimming pool is in difficulty and needs immediate assistance.

For further information or an informal discussion, please do not hesitate to contact me directly on 077 6874 6789robinmcgloughlin@poolview.co.uk.  We are here to help.