Audit 911

April 11, 2011

Establishing an All-Inclusive Staff Training for a Multi-Purpose Facility

Jennifer Garis
Aquatic Director
Campus Recreation
Florida State University

On campuses across North America, Recreation departments are often known as having some of the best risk management practices. The student staff is generally certified in CPR, First Aid, and AED, and the lifeguards typically hold upper level health and safety certifications. However, are they prepared to work together in facilities that have up to 6,000 participants per day and 20 staff on duty at any particular time?

At Florida State University, Campus Recreation has developed a Risk Management Committee to address these issues. The first topic of concern was that for many years, facility and fitness staff members were certified in Basic CPR for the Lay Responder, but the lifeguards were certified in CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer. Those familiar with American Red Cross certifications know how different these certifications really are. Our concern was that if CPR needed to be performed and a lifeguard was called as back up, it would cause great confusion among the staff. No Risk Manager wants to have a confused staff during an emergency! In an attempt to eliminate this inconsistency, in 2005 the department charged the committee and our staff to have all student staff members certified in ‘CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer’. The task was delegated to the Aquatic Department, and numerous Student Instructors worked to accomplish the charge.

In 2008 we advanced the training to the next level. We realized that although the staff was now certified in the same skills, getting them to work together would be the next common goal. Often lifeguards practice their skills through in-service training and mock drills, and through these experiences gain the knowledge and skills to work together effectively. However, many times other staff members are simply certified in the basics, and never use it again until a real emergency occurs. This is why we felt it necessary to hold a training in which all Leach Recreation Center staff could be involved. With a total of over 150 student employees, we knew it would be a massive undertaking, but with close collaboration among the Aquatic Director, Facility Director, and Fitness Directors, we were able to produce a successful staff experience.

The training included four stations in which the staff participated in mock emergencies. Each emergency was based on an actual occurrence in the Leach Recreation Center. The following scenarios were used:

  • Spinal Injury in the Gymnasium – A student was playing basketball when he was under-cut while attempting a lay-up. The student fell and landed on his head/neck. He was temporarily knocked unconscious and was bleeding severely from his head. This sparked a disagreement between the teams, and resulted in a fight among the players. One of the players contacted the staff for help.
  • Cardiac Arrest in the Locker Room – A lifeguard finds an unconscious adult male while completing their routine locker room check. The victim is found with a clear airway but no pulse.
  • First Aid in the Spinning® Studio – A participant in a Spinning® class suffered a laceration from a bike pedal. The Spinning® instructor contacts the fitness staff for assistance.
  • Discussion Topics – This station was used to cover topics such as:
    *Location of AED’s, first aid supplies, supplemental oxygen, ice, and clean up kits
    *Completing appropriate accident and incident reports
    *The roles and responsibility of the Florida State University First Responder Unit
    *Emergency etiquette and “bedside manner” when responding to emergencies
    *Guidelines for medication distribution

Each station lasted 30 minutes (with five minutes included to travel from one station to the next), and the program ended with a brief presentation on evacuation procedures for facility emergencies.

During the weeks following our first attempt at an all inclusive staff training, the Program Directors sought feedback from the students. Students overwhelmingly agreed that they felt much more prepared to handle emergency situations and had a better understanding of each other’s skills and roles in emergency situations. Some even commented on the social aspect, explaining that they feel better about working with people from different program areas after having the opportunity to meet and interact with them.

Overall our Risk Management Committee believes that the program was successful and met the established goals and objectives. Having completed such a large-scale program we suggest following a few simple guidelines:

  • Have a Plan — Take time to create an official schedule for your training. Include a specific time schedule, outline of stations, and assignment of group leaders.
  • Follow Your Plan – Have someone specifically in charge of watching the time and assisting the travel from station to station — especially when you are working with stations with up to 60 participants.
  • Close Your Facility — Recognize the importance of this program; make sure that all staff can be involved. Close your facility an hour early if necessary, or schedule the program prior to opening.
  • Use Student Supervisory Staff and Instructors – Student leaders and instructors are great station managers. This provides the professional staff with the freedom to monitor/observe all stations.
  • Continue the Trend — Risk Management is an ongoing process. Once a successful training program has been developed, commit to repeating it on a regular basis, and make changes whenever necessary.

For further information on the Florida State University risk management efforts, or to request a copy of the training schedule produced for the all inclusive staff training, please contact Jennifer Garis at

Editors Note:
This article is based on a poster presentation displayed at the 2008 NIRSA National Conference by Florida State University staff members Jennifer Garis (Aquatic Director), Lynn Grasso (Assistant Director of Campus Recreation), Kristen Grothouse (Assistant Director of Fitness), Steven Powell (Facility Director) and Wayne Simmons (former Aquatic Student Supervisor).

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