Pool’s new rules working

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THE result of changing the supervision rules at Invercargill’s Splash Palace has far exceeded expectations.

Prior to the rule changes, Splash Palace staff averaged five rescues per month, but since the changes in October last year, the average had reduced to one rescue per month, aquatic services manager Peter Thompson said in a report to the Invercargill City Council (ICC) community services committee last week.

“This is a startling outcome and one that we are extremely pleased with.”

Following five near drowning incidents at the aquatic centre in August last year, staff implemented new measures to ensure young children were better supervised. Among the changes were requiring young children to wear colour-coded wristbands to make them easily identifiable as needing to be closely monitored, and rostering an additional staff member on during peak times.

Mr Thompson said in his report there was a direct correlation between the reduction in the number of rescues and the introduction of the new supervision measures.

Assistant manager Daniela Byrne told the Southland Express last week there had been one rescue in December and January and no rescues in March, May, June and August.

“It is pretty unheard of, for us anyway, to have few or no rescues over the holiday break.”

It was not one measure, but rather the combination of measures which had contributed to the significant reduction, she said.

“It makes our staff more comfortable, and hopefully makes the customers feel more reassured… it is great to see families swimming together and everyone feeling safer.”

She said staff had no immediate plans to implement further measures, but in the future they might consider increasing the age children could be left at the pool unsupervised. At present, parents can leave their children at the pool unattended at the age of eight.

Pool admission numbers dropped by about 10,000 in December and 6000 in January compared to the same time the previous year, the report said.

“We are not sure if [that] was due to the rule changes or not, but pool numbers have been steadily increasing [since]. We are really busy again,” Miss Byrne said.
– Petrina Wright

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