People using public pool facilities in Victoria this summer should not rely on pool lifeguards to keep all swimmers safe, all the time.
The Samuel Morris Foundation has called for parents and friends to watch out for each other regardless of your age and swimming ability.
“People think that if you can swim then you will be fine in the pool, but unfortunately that’s not the case,” said Foundation Founder Michael Morris.
“Adults and teenagers, who are good swimmers, are at just as much risk of drowning and not being detected in time.
“When a pool is busy there is little likelihood of the person being detected within the crucial 10:20 timeframe (10 seconds for detection / 20 seconds for rescue) without the help of technology providing surveillance on the pool floor at all times.
“On the flipside, when a public pool is not busy and you have a small number of people swimming laps with no lifeguard on duty, people can drown without detection,” he said.
International research shows that without technological surveillance, successful drowning detections occur only 16% of the time, compared to over 80% when paired with technology.
“There is no drowning detection technology in Victorian pools so people of all ages need to keep an eye on each other at all times in the pool and should set-up a buddy system to stay safe while in the water,” said Mr Morris.
Michael and Jo-ann Morris founders of the Samuel Morris Foundation believe Australia is lagging in its knowledge and adoption of advances in drowning detection technology.
“We use technology in every aspect of our lives today, so when the technology exists to save lives in public pools, there’s no excuse. No one should drown in public pool facilities,” said Michael Morris.
“We know from our experience that you have only moments before a drowning person will begin to suffer permanent disability or death and lifeguards can only do so much in a pool filled with adults and children,” he said.
Developers of the world’s leading drowning detection system agrees that Australia is behind the rest of the world when it comes to public pool safety.
“As a parent I know how easy it is to get distracted,” said Maytronics Australia Managing Director Dan Kwaczynski. “My kids are old enough to swim well, so whilst it’s tempting to let them go for it, while I get a coffee or read the paper, it’s just not worth the risk, it’s so vitally important to keep an eye on them at all times.
“Keep counting heads and know their location in the pool.
“Australian guidelines stipulate a ratio of 100 people to one lifeguard, which makes it very hard on the lifeguard – almost impossible if the pool is busy,” he said.
Maytronics’ technology detects drownings via a computer vision camera system, which provides ‘eyes’ on and under the water and alerts the lifeguard via a display panel and alarm system when a drowning is occurring. It shows them precisely where the person is located in the pool, so an immediate rescue can occur.
“There are lines and lines of precise coding behind the Poseidon system, which is why it is able to detect when a person is in a drowning state as opposed to just being still,” said Mr Kwaczynski.
“Our technology is designed to provide extra layers of protection and is intended to complement the work of lifeguards, by providing extra eyes across the pool at all times. It simply helps the lifeguard get to a drowning person before it’s too late.”
The Poseidon computer vision system developed by Maytronics has been installed by local authorities in public pools across Asia, Japan, Canada, Europe and the USA – saving more than 30 lives over the past 15 years – but only two systems have been installed here in Blacktown.