Safety doesn't happen by accident. It happens behind the scenes on a daily basis.
Keeping the public and employees safe at pools, parks, playgrounds and programs requires ongoing education, the implementation of prevention policies, and the development of emergency response procedures.
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Des Plaines Park District staff members attend workshops and seminars to learn about potential hazards, a Risk Management Committee continually assesses and improves upon existing guidelines, and everyone is held accountable to a high set of standards.
All Des Plaines Park District employees must successfully complete in-service training for first aid, automated external defibrillators and CPR.
Certain jobs require additional training and education. The district has certified pool operators and certified playground safety inspectors and installers.
Lifeguards at Mystic Waters Family Aquatic Center and Iroquois and Chippewa pools, are trained and certified by the Jeff Ellis and Associates International Pool and Waterpark Training Course. Their initial 20 hours of training includes a written test, water safety and rescue techniques, CPR, first aid, AED certification and oxygen support training.
Once assigned to a pool, the guards spend another 10 to 15 hours in-service training at their facility before it opens for the season. During the summer, guards practice daily, swim laps to stay fit, and rehearse lifesaving scenarios for one hour before their shift starts to meet a four-hour per month minimum requirement. Guards are trained to recognize the difference between splashing, playing and drowning.
"Keeping your mind alert in the sun, making sure guests are doing what they should be doing ... and rescuing patrons in distress is not a job for just anyone," said Jennifer Boys, assistant superintendent of recreation and chair of the Risk Management Committee.
"Lifeguards have one of the most demanding, serious, and difficult part-time summer jobs of all the Des Plaines Park District summer staff. The training is intense, because the job is intense,"
Several hundred children attend Des Plaines Park District summer day camps every week. Special forms are kept at each camp, so counselors know who is authorized to pick up the children at the end of their day. When campers use the paddleboats at Lake Park, life jackets are mandatory. Life jackets are also available to campers and the public, free, at all three pools.
Participants in outdoor recreation at the Des Plaines Park District are protected by ThorGuard lightning prediction systems. It predicts when conditions are right for lightning strikes. Though pools close early in case of threatening weather, this feature allows for earlier warnings and gives park district participants more time to take shelter from an approaching storm.