Illustration by Tariq Kamal
 

Several years ago at my first ?real? manager position with a municipal year-round facility, I was planning to take a short vacation. I was leaving my recreation specialist, ?Doug,? in charge during my absence.

Prior to leaving, I advised Doug to let me know if anything happened, and to inform me of any other issues when I returned. My instructions seemed clear enough to me, and he seemed to understand them. Or so I thought.

When I returned, he told me various small details that occurred that were no big deal. Then Doug said something that really set off warning bells: One of the guards had brought his BMX bike to the pool one day and wanted to ride it off the diving board. I casually asked, ?You spoke to him about that ? right?? Doug replied that he did, and I thought that was that.

Fast forward several months later to a disgruntled guard who was in danger of being terminated. During her questioning for unrelated items, she brought up several things she did not think were ?fair? at the facility, citing one incident with a BMX bike. Within hours, the aquatics supervisor, who oversaw several pools, arrived at the facility to interrogate Doug and me on this matter.

Upon questioning, I said Doug had told me that the guard wanted to bring the bike and go off the board, but he had spoken to him about that. The aquatics supervisor wondered why I had not written up the guard, and I simply said that I thought Doug had handled it and that the issue was over.

Next, Doug was called into the room to explain the situation. That is when he told us both what had really happened. He said the guard brought his bike in, saying he used to perform at ?X Games? type events and was skilled in riding his bike off heights. Riding the bike off the 3-meter board was no big deal. Wanting to see it firsthand, Doug said, ?Well, just be careful.? At that point, the guard carried his bike up the high dive and rode it into the pool. This did not occur just once that night, but several times in front of fellow guards and a few lingering pool patrons prior to the pool closing for the evening.

After Doug finished the story, the room was dead silent as the aquatics supervisor?s eyes became wide with disbelief at how casually he had told the story and how he thought there was nothing wrong with what had happened.

The write-ups and disciplinary actions flowed downhill from this incident. I do not think anyone involved has ever forgotten the infamous ?BMX and the high dive story.?

The Lessons 1Be clear about the rules. To avoid a written reprimand, injury or worse, be clear on the rules of the pool to your entire staff especially those you leave in charge. 2Guards and patrons must follow the same rules. Things that are off-limits to patrons also should be off-limits to guards; they are not as invincible as they think they are. 3Set a good example. Having a document that certifies you as a professional rescuer makes you more responsible as a role model for people at the pool on or off duty.

1. Be clear about the rules.To avoid a written reprimand, injury or worse, be clear on the rules of the pool to your entire staff especially those you leave in charge.

2. Guards and patrons must follow the same rules.Things that are off-limits to patrons also should be off-limits to guards; they are not as invincible as they think they are.

3. Set a good example.Having a document that certifies you as a professional rescuer makes you more responsible as a role model for people at the pool on or off duty.