Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Some Steps to Take Following a Major Pool Accident

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Some Steps to Take Following a Major Pool Accident

Article excerpt

A 20-year veteran diving coach teaches her students about diving from a tower versus a springboard. She carefully explains the differences in takeoff technique and emphasizes that a concrete tower will not flex if you hit it. In fact, a head strike could be catastrophic, even fatal. After sharing some examples of world-class divers who were badly injured or killed from striking the tower, she has everyone sign a detailed waiver, explaining the potential for catastrophic injuries. During practice a month later, a 15-year-old boy whacks the back of his head on the tower while attempting to do a reverse 2 Vi somersault and falls unconscious into the pool. As the ambulance leaves to take the diver to the hospital, the lifeguard supervisor gathers the staff to talk about what happened in an attempt to learn how the incident occurred.

At this point in this scenario, warning lights should be flashing and sirens sounding. It's natural to want to discuss the event. Expect any staff and witnesses involved to be extremely upset, maybe even hysterical, and need to be consoled and reassured. However, there are some steps that should be taken immediately following the incident to help guard against any future legal action. Instead of gathering any involved staff or witnesses to discuss the incident, provide each person with an incident report form to record exactly what he or she did and saw, and have them sign it before any discussion takes place. It's very important that each rescuer estimates the times involved in recognition, response, removal, dispatch of EMS, their arrival and when AR or CPR was started. Witnesses should provide their phone number and both them and staff should give their signed forms to the pool manager. Then, before any staff that was involved goes home, an incident debriefing should be held. The manager should also provide each person who fills out an incident report form with a copy for their personal records.

If during the course of providing first aid guards learn personal details about the victim that would never otherwise be known, they must keep that information confidential. Sharing it with friends, family or anyone* other than personnel who need to know in order to provide additional care, can be seen as negligence.

Waivers and Standards

Since the diving coach carefully explained the risks of tower diving, documented those explanations, and had the student and/or a parent sign the hold harmless agreement or waiver detailing the risks, the diver (and parents) knew about, and agreed to assume, the risks of tower diving. …

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