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updated: 7/20/2011 1:07 PM

Des Plaines lifeguards earn safety award

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  • During in-service training before the 2011 pool season, lifeguards practice created emergency life-saving scenarios at Mystic Waters.

      During in-service training before the 2011 pool season, lifeguards practice created emergency life-saving scenarios at Mystic Waters.
    Courtesy of Lisa Haring

  • Veteran and new lifeguards practice life-saving techniques during a training session at Mystic Waters. Seventy-two of the 88 Des Plaines Park District lifeguards were part of the Gold Award team from 2010.

      Veteran and new lifeguards practice life-saving techniques during a training session at Mystic Waters. Seventy-two of the 88 Des Plaines Park District lifeguards were part of the Gold Award team from 2010.
    photos Courtesy of Lisa Haring

  • Lifeguards practice water vigilance while rotating positions at Mystic Waters during an in-service training before the pools opened June 4.

      Lifeguards practice water vigilance while rotating positions at Mystic Waters during an in-service training before the pools opened June 4.
    Courtesy of Lisa Haring

 
By Lisa Haring
Des Plaines Park District submission

The Des Plaines Park District announced that the 2010 Aquatic staff has been awarded the prestigious Gold International Aquatic Safety Award by Jeff Ellis & Associates, Inc., International Aquatic Safety and Risk Management Consultants.

Earning this award demonstrates that the park district pools -- Mystic Waters, Chippewa and Iroquois -- consistently exceed industry standards in risk management and epitomize aquatic safety excellence.

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"It is apparent that the entire staff embodies the idea of setting the standard in aquatic safety, and swimmers who frequent these park district pools are afforded the highest degree of swimmer protection currently available for the aquatic industry," said Richard A. Carroll, Jeff Ellis & Associates, Inc., senior vice president and chief operating officer. "It is important to know that only facilities that score in the top 30 percent of the audit criteria receive this award."

International Aquatic Safety Awards are presented annually to participants in Ellis & Associates' Comprehensive Risk Management Program.

This is the program used to train all lifeguards working at the Des Plaines Park District pools.

The award is based on results gathered over multiple random, unannounced safety audits throughout the season.

Mystic Waters is audited three times per season, Chippewa and Iroquois, two to three times per season.

The audits include undercover video surveillance of individual lifeguards while they protect their zone. They are evaluated for professional diligence and their scanning habits, response time, rotation patterns, equipment readiness and maintenance and professionalism.

Additionally, individual and team life-support rescue skills are evaluated.

Simulated emergency lifesaving drills are conducted to measure the effectiveness of established Emergency Action Plans.

Vigilance Awareness Training drills are conducted to determine the lifeguards' response to emergencies requiring rescue, oxygen support and first aid. Each guard is scored: Exceeds Standards, Meets Standards or Fails Standards. Any staff member receiving a failing mark is automatically relieved of his position.

The audit concludes with administrative, supervisory and facility evaluations, also scored on the same scale. Administrators and supervisors are audited for lifeguard interactions, maintaining licensing records and certifications, an Emergency Action Plan, the maintenance of proper safety and rescue equipment, and procedural paperwork.

The pools are evaluated for the presence of and access to safety equipment, water clarity, glare issues and signage. The cumulative score of all audits determines whether or not a facility receives an award.

Ellis & Associates' award-winning facilities represent the finest and safest aquatic facilities in the world.

"Our staff commits themselves to safety. They participate in vigorous training before and during each season," said Jennifer Boys, assistant superintendent of recreation.

"Their training begins with a weekend long certification program, followed by a weeklong orientation at the specific aquatics facilities.

"Once the summer season begins, the process continues with in-service training, drills and audits," she said.

"Each of the 78 lifeguards and 10 pool managers must accumulate a minimum of four hours of training each month. Seventy-two of the 88 staff mentioned will return to their posts that they held last summer. We are always pleased to see our veteran staff return from year to year. That helps us maintain consistency in all aspects of our operations."

For pool hours, pool pass information and daily admission fees, call (847) 391-5700 or visit DPParks.org.

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