Lifeguards at City of Red Deer pools have been keeping a closer eye on adults with young children since the near drowning incident of two children at the Collicutt in August.
“We’ve never had a fatality and we have really only had one close call and that was just the recent incident at the Collicutt Centre,” said Kay Kenny, the city’s recreation superintendent.
On Aug. 13, an unconscious a seven-year-old girl and a conscious but unresponsive boy, 5, were found submerged in the deep end after ducking out from a family change room.
“They were brought out by a guard right away who took them to the side of the pool. They were resuscitated quickly by that guard and another one and by the time EMS arrived at the swimming pool they were both sitting up talking.”
Now pool staff are working to ensure children under eight stay within arms reach of an adult which has always been a rule at city pools.
Kenny said people should know that’s the rule.
It’s posted on the walls. If lifeguards spot an unattended child they will talk to the parent or adult who came with them.
“It’s top of mind again.”
Collicutt is busiest from October to April when many families spend the entire day at the centre.
Despite attracting more swimmers with the addition of the Collicutt pool in 2001, Kenny said Red Deer’s pools are safer.
“We’re able to attract excellent staff. If we can’t employ them full time in one facility then amongst the facilities we have an opportunity to employ them part time in each one to be able to give them more hours.
“It is a career for these people.”
The G. H. Dawe Centre pool is currently closed for renovations but the Rec Centre’s indoor and outdoor pools are operational.
Kenny said the city’s pool safety standards continue to exceed provincial standards and the recommendations from a fatality inquiry report released in May into the death of a Carstairs boy who drowned at Olds Aquatic Centre in 2006.
The provincial standard is to have one lifeguard on shift, but the Red Deer usually has two and lifeguards always have phone access to another person in case of emergency.
At the Collicutt there’s one lifeguard for every 25 swimmers, six guards for 350 and a waterslide attendant. Indoor at the Rec Centre there’s one guard for up to 50 swimmers but there’s always a second guard on site, and four guards for up to 250 people. The outdoor pool will double up guards quickly and will have one guard for 40 people and six guards for 400.
“I’m very comfortable with what we have in place at each of our pools.”