It’s vital that pool operators develop action plans to respond immediately if health officials announce an outbreak or increase in crypto cases. Here are some guidelines.
• Strive to exceed all guidelines for water quality and
sanitization. If applicable, consider adding supplemental
disinfection or other measures known to destroy crypto,
such as regular hyperchlorination.
• Develop a fecal incident response plan and train your staff
on the response procedures.
• Establish and enforce healthy swimming behavior rules. This
includes firm diarrhea-exclusion policies for patrons as well as
• Get to know local health officials and keep them apprised
of any updated information. Also maintain contact information for
other local aquatics operators.
• Educate your staff and establish a culture that allows
lifeguards with diarrhea to feel comfortable coming forward. Also
train all employees to enforce healthy swimming behaviors and
• Push the healthy swimming message. Work with public
relations experts, health officials and other local aquatics
operators to develop and distribute information on crypto
and safe swimming practices.
• Stay informed. Keep up to date on any outbreaks in your
region and make sure your staff and supervisors also are
• Develop a crisis communication strategy that includes
protocols for informing media and patrons. Coordinate with
supervisors, public relations staff and other stakeholders, and
train your staff on plan execution.
• Stay in regular contact with health officials and other
operators to collaborate on a response.
• Implement intensified crypto-response control
measures. This should include an initial hyperchlorination as
recommended by the CDC and possibly regular hyperchlorination
(weekly). Health officials also may recommend additional actions,
such as suspending programming.
• Implement your crisis management plan. Make sure all
stakeholders — staff, supervisors and others — have all
• Monitor progress. Make sure assigned tasks are completed,
review media coverage and follow through on communication with
• Schedule debriefings with staff, supervisors and others.
Assess how the crypto crisis was handled and determine
whether any policy or procedural changes are required.
• Look for the lessons. Were there other outbreaks or
strategies that you can learn from?
• Stay in communication with health officials and other
affected operators. Share strategies and provide any follow-up data
• Work with PR personnel to develop and pitch follow-up news
stories to the media, and prepare final updates for patrons.
Information provided by the CDC; Elise Knox, aquatic park manager, The Colony,
Texas; Dave Strueber, assistant director, West
Region Parks & Recreation Department, Dallas; and Ray
Dunham, principal, Raymond K. Dunham and Associates.