photo courtesy Town of Marana Parks and Rec

Town of Marana Parks and Recreation

Marana, Ariz.

Every year in the United States there are an estimated 3,960 fatal unintentional drownings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s an average of 11 drowning deaths per day.

To effect a reduction in local drownings, the Town of Marana Parks and Recreation aquatics division took a collaborative approach to educating its community about drowning. It worked with local first responders as well as communications, safety and emergency management personnel to create the #SplashSavvy campaign.

There is no shortage of drowning-prevention information, yet the numbers of drownings remain staggering. So #SplashSavvy focuses on teaching everyday citizens how to respond if a drowning incident occurs.

“Lifeguards, paramedics, firefighters, police officers, dispatch and healthcare workers are the leading first responders when it comes to a drowning emergency,” says Kevin Goodrich, recreation supervisor for the Town of Marana Parks and Recreation. “However, when it comes to your backyard pool, a visit to a friend’s house with a pool or just the average bath time routine, you will be the most crucial first responder on scene. And who better to learn from ... than the responders who do it on a regular basis?”

As part of #SplashSavvy, prevention is still promoted as the best defense, but Goodrich and the team take it further by teaching the community critical information, such as knowing the exact steps for responding to a drowning emergency and understanding how to support the professional first responders when they arrive on the scene.

“We also used the campaign as an opportunity to highlight lifeguards as first responders in our community, which is a push that we have been working on for some time,” Goodrich says. “Lifeguards play an important role in keeping others safe and are professional rescuers with an important responsibility to respond quickly and efficiently.”

The cooperative team includes internal Parks and Recreation departments, Northwest Fire District, Marana Police Department and Police Communications, and Marana Health Center’s Counseling and Wellness Center.

The informational campaign makes use of myriad communication methods, including social media, infographics and events, and has reached a high level of exposure throughout the community, Goodrich says. The team also created a handout called “Create Your Own Drowning Drill,” which encourages individuals to map out what a drowning emergency could look like and what their plan would be as individuals or households should an emergency occur.

“#SplashSavvy provides an alternative view on drowning awareness and the first responders ... and we believe that these different perspectives better prepare everyone to view themselves as the most crucial first responder,” said Goodrich. “It’s a campaign that is meant to live on and adapt as needs and information changes through the years.”