The National Drowning Prevention Alliance held its 2012 National Drowning Prevention Symposium last week, and organization leaders have announced big plans for continued expansion.

A new seminar and new online offerings including a virtual education platform are set to launch before the end of the year.

Next month NDPA will hold its inaugural International Adapted Aquatics Conference at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

That event will kick-off a new continuing education platform, which will be accessible via the NDPA website. Other new online offerings include greater social media outreach and an expanded selection of downloadable materials.

“There has to be more education opportunities,” said Kim Burgess, executive director of the NDPA. “If we’re going to elevate the profession of swim instructor and lifeguard they have to be better trained and better educated.”

In addition to the new opportunities online, NDPA has established local chapters, and built relationships with a number of entities including Clarion Safety Systems and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

This month’s symposium, held in San Diego, drew attendees from across the industry and speakers included experts focused on drowning prevention from a variety of perspectives. The keynote speaker was Dr. Stephen Beerman, president of the International Lifesaving Federation, also clinical associate professor and postgraduate site director, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia. He discussed strategies to prevent drowning, particularly in developing nations.

Other speakers included Dr. Julie Gilchrist, Centers for Disease Control; Lana Whitehead, SWIMkids USA; Teresa Covington, National Center for Child Death Review; and Kathleen Reilly, Consumer Product Safety Commission.