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Reducing risk and liability at aquatic facilities

Creating the right roles

Emergency response plans (ERPs) should be practiced often to ensure everyone works together as a team during an emergency.

The facility operator and manager may be part of the aquatic facility’s emergency response team. The role each staff member plays in each plan depends on the nature of the emergency, as well as the number of staff available. Preparation is important when handling an emergency to minimize injuries and administer care to a victim. The facility must have an ERP that everyone is familiar with, as it details the duties of staff during emergencies. These duties should be practiced often to ensure everyone works together as a team during an emergency.

Examples of incidents that require having ERPs include, but are not limited to:

  • Water rescue—passive and active victim;
  • Unconscious victim—breathing and non-breathing;
  • Spinal injury incident—in-water (deep and shallow) and dry land;
  • Fatality;
  • Fire;
  • Lightning storm;
  • Fecal incident;
  • Chemical accident;
  • Injury—blood;
  • Injury—life threatening;
  • Injury—not life threatening;
  • Power outage; and
  • Structural problems.

The role the operator and facility manager plays in the development of the ERP will depend on the size and management structure for the aquatic facility. Consideration must be taken for the following:

  • Types of emergencies—water-related emergencies, sudden illness, natural disaster, and facility emergencies such as fire.
  • Layout of the facility—the location of the rescue equipment, entry and exit points, and telephones, etc.
  • Available equipment—rescue equipment, first aid supplies, and protective equipment such as gloves. If there is an AED and supplemental oxygen available, additional training would be required.
  • Emergency Medical Personnel (EMS)—the communication plan for notifying EMS and the facility access for them.
  • Chain of command—identifying who needs to be notified in an emergency. This defines who contacts the family members or parents, if needed.

Along with the chain of command goes the communication plan. A successful execution of an ERP requires flawless communication between all staff members so no time is wasted in administering aid to the victim. For example, which staff member goes to get certain rescue equipment? Who calls 911? Who helps with crowd control?

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