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Well Managed Incident Sensationalised

Well Managed Incident Sensationalised

Sensationalised media coverage of a recent swimming pool incident overshadowed valuable community water safety lessons and the first rate conduct of pool lifeguards.

This is the finding of an independent review released by Water Safety New Zealand today into the near drowning of a six year old girl at the Keith Spry pool in March.

The incident that occurred at Keith Spry Pool was a memorable one, for all the wrong reasons. A front-page article headlining 'Rachel's back from the dead' after a 6-year-old girl was pulled from the water unconscious.

Alan Muir, Executive Director of Water Safety New Zealand expressed concern that the media focused on the negative aspects of the incident and didn't get to the key cause of this incident.

"The fact is that a young child was left unattended by her caregiver for several minutes. She got into difficulty and was rescued then subsequently revived by a lifeguard. The lifeguards and pool staff on duty at the time did exactly what they were trained to do in accordance with industry standards and as a result this child has lived to swim another day" said Muir.

According to Brendon Ward, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Recreation Association the Pool Alone policy must be strictly enforced at all pools. The policy states Children under the age of 8 years must be actively supervised by a responsible person 16 years or over. In other words caregivers have a responsibility at any pool to supervise those under their care.

"The common misgiving is that lifeguards are there to baby sit. This is not only incorrect, it is irresponsible" said Ward.

Recent research shows that New Zealand children, although receiving some degree of swim instruction are not progressing to a level whereby they can be somewhat independent and confident in the water.

A common fallacy amongst parents is the notion 'My child has had swimming lessons so they can look after them self'.

Muir disagrees. "This couldn't be further from the truth. The frightening reality is that parents are sitting with their head in the paper while their child is swimming. Parents must take responsibility for their children and help them enjoy their aquatic experience, be it at the pool, the beach, or another water environment."

The review, conducted in accordance with the industry standard guidelines, highlighted the dangers of leaving children unsupervised while at public pools.

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