Sometimes, sitting at my desk, I start to wonder if what I do really matters. I mean, how important is my job, really? Luckily, I don’t have to stay in this existential crisis for too long because one of our readers reminds me — be it online, print or social media — that what we do at Aquatics International makes a real difference.
I suspect facility operators may not be so lucky. In fact, you probably deal with more complaints than compliments. So I’m here to remind you that what you do does matter. It matters to each person who goes to your facility. And it matters to the industry as a whole.
Let me illustrate.
Two recent entrapment incidents have once again shined the light on hidden dangers at facilities and the tragic results that can follow. In Tennessee, an entrapment left a 4-year-old girl with internal injuries. (You can read that story here.) In Florida, entrapments have endangered the lives of at least three children. (You’ll find that story here.)
The truth is, proper operation could have prevented these tragedies. In the Tennessee case, it appears two layers of protection failed because the operator didn’t make sure they were properly installed. First, the anti-entrapment drain cover that should have protected the child apparently wasn’t screwed on properly. Second, it appears the suction release system was never properly installed, or tested to ensure that it actually worked.
In Florida, the issue seems to be one of pure laziness and neglect. The entrapments are happening because it’s apparently too much trouble to attach and reattach a safety cover that needs to be removed to clean the pool. These covers are routinely left off and, as a result, children are getting entrapped in these open suction intakes.
Both of these issues point to operators who were asleep at the wheel. Aquatics facilities are complicated. They must have operators who are familiar with every aspect of the equipment that runs them, along with the safety protocols and products in place to protect the public. If you are unsure or unfamiliar with all aspects of your facility, I urge you to get educated.
Now is the perfect time to do so. There are no fewer than five major industry conferences coming up, all offering educational opportunities. If you can’t travel, or don’t have time, there are options as well. One is AI’s very own Virtual Conference. This year’s free, on-demand conference focuses on renovation. You can learn more or register at aquaticseducation.com.
If not for yourself and your patrons, get educated for the industry you love. Every injury that happens is another invitation for regulators to step in. If we haven’t learned our lesson by now, let me be clear: Unless aquatics polices itself, the government will do it for us.
We know all too well the pain and frustration that can cause, despite all good intentions. So the next time you find yourself wondering how important your job is, remember that what you do really does matter. It matters to the public — and it matters to the industry.