December 16, 2015
Adventures in Programming
Aquatics and Safety Coordinator
Weber State University
With the popularity of shows such as Wipeout and American Ninja Warrior, inflatable obstacles have become a popular programming option for many universities across the country. Campus Recreation departments are always looking for new programming ideas to implement and the Wibit provides a unique program that gives students an experience similar to what they are watching on television.
What is a Wibit? To define it simply would be to say that Wibit is not a product, but rather a company. The product Wibit manufactures is an inflatable obstacle course for use in aquatic programming. When a programmer sees Wibit, they see a world of excitement and possibility. When a Risk Manager sees Wibit, they run the other direction. At least, this was the experience of Weber State University when Campus Recreation purchased a Wibit obstacle course. Read more
December 16, 2015
Why my facility EAP should differ from yours
Recreation and Aquatics Supervisor
City of Pinellas Park
It is an eventuality for every facility. An accident; someone doesn’t eat before getting on the treadmill; a child enters the water without a lifejacket; or a person played tennis in 110 degree weather for 4 hours without drinking water while wearing a sweatshirt, with a broken ankle, a day after heart surgery (pick your scenario – we’ve all been through it). For those of us that are experienced in facility and staff management, we often don’t bat-an-eye when we hear about these moments. We shake our head, grin a bit, and add another accident response to our professional tool belt. What we tend to overlook is the response of the staff and it’s reflection on the training that they have been through.
Most Campus Recreation facilities put a large amount of time, effort, and money into staff training at the beginning of every semester. Most of these trainings have the same underlying lessons of prevention and response. However, 3 months after training, ask the staff what they learned from the training and their stream of thought will go something like this “Compressions… breaths…. Ice-bag….. Pizza…. Squirrel”. A review of CPR studies revealed that 66% of students would not be able to pass the skills portion of a CPR class just 3 months after they sat through a class, led by an instructor (AED Challenge 2014). All that time, effort, and money lasts you until midterms if you are lucky. As professionals, we can become numb to the lovely nuances of our facility that cause our participants to forget to eat or leave their inhalers at home. For our staff however, anxiety about having to remember skills but also potentially endangering someone’s life can cause some staff members to flop when they should fly. So, what do we do? Read more
February 25, 2014
The importance of Accident & Incident Report Forms
Florida Southern College
It was my first week on the job and my first major event to be working. I was a risk management mentor. A job title that meant little to anyone who worked outside of our own Campus Recreation staff but to those who did work there I was the expert on anything accident or incident related. Whenever something occurred, it was my job to ensure the student staff acted accordingly and my responsibility to step in if they didn’t. I should have known that the combination of the high intensity water polo matches taking place and my own personal magnetism for accidents that something would happen. I was making my rounds when the call came over the radio for an ambulance. I and the supervisor on duty stepped up our fast walk to a run when we heard it was a head/neck/back injury. The lifeguard speaking on the radio was calm and descriptive so I expected for the response I was about to witness to be organized and thorough.
What I found was an upset and concerned lifeguard who was being told that the trainers would take care of the participant and that her services were not necessary. The lifeguard was anxious to provide the care she had been trained to give, the supervisor was irate that our emergency action plan wasn’t going as expected, however I wasn’t sure if we had authority over athletic trainers to call them off. The last thing this situation needed was a power struggle and I chose to reassure the staff and stand by in case the trainer changed their mind and did want our assistance. The toughest part of that day: finding a way to describe this accident in a report form.
January 15, 2014
Shawn P. DeRosa, J.D.
Manager of Aquatic Facilities & Safety Officer for Intercollegiate Athletics
The Pennsylvania State University
Shallow water blackout (“SWB”), also referred to as hypoxic blackout, is a term describing loss of consciousness arising from oxygen deprivation brought about by voluntary or involuntary hyperventilation.
In swimming, voluntary hyperventilation occurs when a swimmer intentionally “overbreathes,” blowing off carbon dioxide. Involuntary hyperventilation can occur as a result of stress and physical exertion during a workout that pushes the swimmer beyond his/her maximum aerobic capacity (VO2 max).
This “silent killer” of otherwise healthy, accomplished swimmers should give pause to every coach and aquatic director around the world. Do we need to rethink how we run our practices or manage our facilities?
The dangers of breath holding are well known and well documented. The U.S. Naval Center website contains multiple examples of competent swimmers who lost their lives to shallow water blackout. Media outlets continue to highlight drownings of swimmers found unconscious, underwater following breath holding activities. In February 2013, swimmer Alex Bousky of the Peoria Notre Dame Varsity swim team suffered a non-fatal drowning. Bousky’s team is reported to have been working on how far they could swim underwater.
Industry groups including USA Swimming, the American Red Cross, the National Swimming Pool Foundation and the U.S. Navy have long cautioned against underwater breath holding activities, particularly those involving hyperventilation. Other groups, such as the YMCA of the USA and the Department of Morale, Welfare and Recreation of the U.S. Navy outright ban such extremely dangerous activities. Why? Because SWB has been proven to kill otherwise healthy swimmers.
While USA Swimming has not mandated a ban on restricted breathing training on the surface of the water, the national governing body for swimming admits that there is “no evidence that swimming without oxygen necessarily trains the anaerobic system.” USA Swimming states that there is a difference “between having swimmers hold their breath while swimming under water versus an extended breathing pattern while swimming on the surface.” The latter, is thought to improve oxygen management capacity. The former has proven to be deadly.
While USA Swimming and the American Red Cross continue to educate coaches regarding the difference between extending the breathing pattern on the surface and breath holding drills beneath the surface, some coaches continue to place athletes at risk of injury or death by doing “over/unders” or “lungbuster repeats.”
Even more dangerous is when a coach puts pressure on the athlete to swim extended distances underwater, such as by requiring an entire team to repeat an underwater drill if any one athlete surfaces to breathe. This creates a concern for athlete welfare as well as a potential area of liability, both for the coach and the employer.
Aquatic programs are advised to follow a risk management approach to addressing safety and liability concerns presented by hypoxic blackout. This entails evaluating the nature of the risk before selecting a risk aversion or risk management strategy. This also requires distinguishing between underwater drills and those conducted on the surface of the water. As both drills can lead to SWB, an evaluation must be made as to the likelihood or frequency of SWB resulting from such drills as well as the possible severity of such occurrence. Read more
May 10, 2012
A Comprehensive System for Campus Recreation
Matthew D. Griffith, M.S., RCRSP
Georgia Institute of Technology
The practice of in-service training is critical to keeping your employees prepared to prevent injuries and respond to emergencies. Despite the fact that the importance of on-going training for staff has been almost unanimously agreed upon in some recreation program areas for years (e.g. aquatics), other areas are much further behind when it comes to in-service training. Employee in-service training programs can not only prevent skill erosion and improve emergency preparedness, but also facilitate individual employee development into contributing members of the community. That’s where the concept of Level 5 in-service training comes in. Developed by the author and Dr. Joseph Walker, it addresses observed deficiencies in current practices and maximizes the impact of staff participation. It will enhance the development of the individual and also function as a recruiting tool for future employees.
January 17, 2012
Matthew D. Griffith, M.S., RCRSP
Georgia Institute of Technology
It is well-known that educating guests is vital to their safety and an important component of a risk management plan. What isn’t as clear for many facility operators is what the most important information to get across is. It is not atypical for swimmers to be overwhelmed with signage listing a dozen or more pool rules when visiting an aquatic facility. This is unfortunate because most people only spend a few seconds reading signs. The result is poor communication of potentially important information. Therefore, pool rules and regulations should be placed into one of three categories: MUST know, SHOULD know, and NICE to know information. The information guests MUST know is information which could lead to catastrophic injury or death.
Within this category, there are four warnings that apply universally to almost all aquatic facilities. These are the four most important warnings to sign and enforce because if left unaddressed, they can lead to catastrophic accidents resulting in death or paralysis.