The Pool Activity Leader (PAL) Course

State: NY Type: Model Practice Year: 2010

:

The safe oversight of children is critical in the prevention of injury. Children’s Camps, permitted under Chapter I, Subpart 7-2 of the New York State Sanitary Code (NYSSC), that utilize an off-site pool, bathing beach or an aquatic amusement park where the off-site facility provides lifeguards, are required to provide one lifeguard for each 75 campers to supervise camper bathing activities and implement the camp safety plan. These lifeguards are not meant to perform rescues but rather it is the intent of this requirement to have a camp employ staff experienced with bathing activities to oversee the camp and ensure the safety of its campers while at an off-site location. Camps struggle to meet this requirement due to the shortage of lifeguards and prefer to utilize seasoned staff with this responsibility. This code requirement may limit a camp in their ability to offer swimming as an activity.

The goal of the Nassau County Department of Health (NCDOH) was to provide camps with an alternative to a Children’s Camp code requirement. This alternative was the creation of a course entitled “Pool Activity Leader," offered by the American Red Cross (ARC), to teach the necessary safety and supervisory skills to permit a camp to engage in off-site bathing activities without the need to employ a qualified lifeguard.

This goal was intended only for camps that visited off-site facilities that provide qualified lifeguards. In order to accomplish this goal the first objective was to coordinate with the ARC to develop and offer a course that was comprised of relevant waterfront, management and safety curriculum but was less time intensive and did not include lifeguard rescue skills. The reduced course length permits a camp to successfully have their staff trained in time prior to the opening of their camp season and lends flexibility to a camp’s ability to employ staff they consider experienced with their operation, familiar with their camp’s safety plan and who have successfully demonstrated their ability to be in charge of their camp while at an off-site bathing facility.

The second objective was to outreach to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) for their evaluation of the course and determine if the curriculum provided the necessary training to an individual who can safely oversee its campers, meet the intent of the code, and be criteria for consideration of a waiver request. The third objective was to inform the camps of the course so that their staff could receive training and their waiver requests could be processed prior to the opening of the summer camp season.

The Pool Activity Leader (PAL) Course was fully developed for implementation by April 2008. Approximately 54 percent of the children’s camps regulated in Nassau County that engage in off-site bathing activities utilized this course as an alternative to a New York State Children’s Camps code requirement. Several positive unintended outcomes resulted from the implementation of the PAL Course. Camp owners and operators considered the PAL Course useful to also train staff that remains on camp property. The Nassau County Department of Health’s initiative to successfully develop and implement the PAL Course is responsible for a proposed change to Chapter I, Subpart 7-2 of the New York State Sanitary Code. Finally, camp staff from a neighboring county has taken the PAL Course for training and other local health departments have expressed interest in the course.

:
Nassau County Department of Health
:
The Pool Activity Leader (PAL) Course
The safe oversight of children is critical in the prevention of injury. Children’s Camps, permitted under Chapter I, Subpart 7-2 of the New York State Sanitary Code (NYSSC), that utilize an off-site pool, bathing beach or an aquatic amusement park where the off-site facility provides lifeguards, are required to provide one lifeguard for each 75 campers to supervise camper bathing activities and implement the camp safety plan. These lifeguards are not meant to perform rescues but rather it is the intent of this requirement to have a camp employ staff experienced with bathing activities to oversee the camp and ensure the safety of its campers while at an off-site location. Camps struggle to meet this requirement due to the shortage of lifeguards and prefer to utilize seasoned staff with this responsibility. This code requirement may limit a camp in their ability to offer swimming as an activity. The goal of the Nassau County Department of Health (NCDOH) was to provide camps with an alternative to a Children’s Camp code requirement. This alternative was the creation of a course entitled “Pool Activity Leader," offered by the American Red Cross (ARC), to teach the necessary safety and supervisory skills to permit a camp to engage in off-site bathing activities without the need to employ a qualified lifeguard. This goal was intended only for camps that visited off-site facilities that provide qualified lifeguards. In order to accomplish this goal the first objective was to coordinate with the ARC to develop and offer a course that was comprised of relevant waterfront, management and safety curriculum but was less time intensive and did not include lifeguard rescue skills. The reduced course length permits a camp to successfully have their staff trained in time prior to the opening of their camp season and lends flexibility to a camp’s ability to employ staff they consider experienced with their operation, familiar with their camp’s safety plan and who have successfully demonstrated their ability to be in charge of their camp while at an off-site bathing facility. The second objective was to outreach to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) for their evaluation of the course and determine if the curriculum provided the necessary training to an individual who can safely oversee its campers, meet the intent of the code, and be criteria for consideration of a waiver request. The third objective was to inform the camps of the course so that their staff could receive training and their waiver requests could be processed prior to the opening of the summer camp season. The Pool Activity Leader (PAL) Course was fully developed for implementation by April 2008. Approximately 54 percent of the children’s camps regulated in Nassau County that engage in off-site bathing activities utilized this course as an alternative to a New York State Children’s Camps code requirement. Several positive unintended outcomes resulted from the implementation of the PAL Course. Camp owners and operators considered the PAL Course useful to also train staff that remains on camp property. The Nassau County Department of Health’s initiative to successfully develop and implement the PAL Course is responsible for a proposed change to Chapter I, Subpart 7-2 of the New York State Sanitary Code. Finally, camp staff from a neighboring county has taken the PAL Course for training and other local health departments have expressed interest in the course.
The safe oversight of children is critical in the prevention of injury. The NYSDOH considers swimming to be an activity with significant risk of injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2005, fatal drowning remained the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages one to 14 years old. The need to implement measures to safeguard, minimize risk and prevent injuries to children is important to public health. Successful completion of the PAL Course provides the training to help address this issue.Children’s camp owners and operators are charged with the obligation and responsibility to safely supervise children. The NCDOH regulates Children’s Camps as defined under Chapter I, Subpart 7-2 of the NYSSC to protect the public health and safety of campers. Included in this code is a provision that requires camps that utilize an off-site pool, bathing beach or an aquatic amusement park, where the off-site facility provides qualified lifeguards, to provide one qualified lifeguard for each 75 campers to supervise camper bathing activities and implement the camp safety plan. However, these lifeguards are not meant to perform the rescue skills of a lifeguard. The intent of this provision was for camps to be held to the same degree of accountability with the expectation that they provide the same levels of protection to campers who were outside the controlled environment of camp property and were blended in with the general public. Eight-two of approximately 130 permitted camps in Nassau County engaged in off-site bathing activities. These camps struggled to meet this requirement due to the shortage of lifeguards and preferred to utilize seasoned staff with this responsibility. This code requirement could potentially limit a camp to offer swimming as an activity.The NCDOH provided camps with an alternative to a Children’s Camp code requirement. It applies only to camps that visit bathing facilities staffed with qualified lifeguards. The PAL Course, offered by the ARC, teaches the necessary safety and supervisory skills to permit a camp to engage in off-site bathing activities without employing a qualified lifeguard. Since lifeguard supervision is provided to children by the bathing facilities, the PAL Course is not required nor does it train students for lifeguard rescue skills. The PAL Course is comprised of relevant waterfront, management and safety curriculum and is less time intensive than the lifeguard course. The reduced course length permits camp owners and operators to successfully have their staff trained in time prior to the opening of their camp season and lends flexibility to a camps ability to employ staff they consider experienced with their operation, familiar with their camp’s safety plan and who have successfully demonstrated an ability to be in charge of the camp while at an off-site bathing environment. The PAL Course teaches objectives considered important when visiting a bathing environment. Topics include: 1. Recognize, respond and prevent aquatic emergencies. 2. Recognize the common hazards associated with swimming pools and how to eliminate or minimize such hazards. 3. Recognize the characteristics of someone who needs help in the water. 4. Recognize head/neck/back injuries. 5. Provide assistance to others using non-swimming rescues. 6. How to implement injury prevention strategies. 7. How to prepare for and respond to an emergency. 8. How to minimize risks. 9. How to perform a buddy check. In addition, students are shown two DVD’s to reinforce learning principles. The course is conducted at an indoor pool where students are shown where to place camp counselors on deck and where to look for hazards on a swimming pool deck, in the water, as well as all associated areas such as restrooms, locker/changing areas, and snack bars. The PAL Course is a new training and certification program designed for children’s camps to address saf
Agency Community RolesThe NCDOH operates as the local focal point in the PAL Course in that it coordinates efforts with the ARC, the NYSDOH, and children’s camps permitted under Chapter I, Subpart 7-2 of the NYSSC. The role of the NCDOH in the PAL Course is to maintain communication with the ARC to ensure that course objectives are taught and to discuss any proposals for modifications as a result of conducting the course. Initially, the NCDOH conversed with the NYSDOH to receive an acceptance of the PAL Course curriculum and will maintain dialog for the acceptance of any requested modifications to the course. Each year, the NCDOH provides a list of course dates to camps and processes waiver requests from camps seeking to take the PAL Course and utilize it as an alternative to a Children’s Camps code requirement. The ARC plays a major role in the planning and implementation of the PAL Course. Initially it dedicated a significant amount of time to develop the course, evaluate prospective instructors to teach the course, and select sites to provide the course. Each year it offers the course and provides several dates to the NCDOH for dissemination to the children’s camps permitted annually under Chapter I, Subpart 7-2 of the NYSSC. The ARC oversees the PAL Course to ensure that all learning objectives are taught, including but not limited to, aquatic injury prevention, how to recognize and respond to emergencies, how to oversee the counselor supervision of campers and how to perform a buddy check. Each year course record sheets are completed and certification cards are issued to individuals who successfully complete the course. The role of the NYSDOH was to review the PAL Course curriculum and grant acceptance of the course which provides a framework for a waiver request consideration. The NYSDOH continues to provide guidance to the NCDOH as needed. As a direct result of their involvement in the review of this course, the NYSDOH has considered to amend the Children’s Camps code to include language to permit an approved training course to be utilized. The camp’s role is to send staff to be trained and successfully complete the PAL Course. It is their continued role to receive the necessary training to provide a significant level of protection and safety to the children they supervise, especially when visiting an off-site facility. Costs and ExpendituresIn December 2007, the number of camps impacted by the 2004 New York State Department of Health’s Children’s Camp Code was determined to examine the feasibility of developing the PAL Course. Once this was decided meetings with the ARC were held to review existing course curriculum to extract critical learning objectives to form the course. The PAL Course curriculum was forwarded to the NYSDOH for their review, input and finally their acceptance. The successful implementation of this practice was hinged on providing camps with ample notification. To achieve this, the NCDOH sent a letter to all camps permitted under Chapter I, Subpart 7-2 of the NYSSC approximately three months prior to the onset of camp season. This letter informed the camps of the PAL Course offered by the ARC, outlined the steps and procedures a camp must follow to secure a waiver from the code, and provided a deadline for waiver submission. In addition, contact information for both the ARC and the NCDOH was provided should the camp seek further information. Attached to this letter was a sample waiver letter for the camp to complete and submit to the NCDOH for consideration. The office staff was informed of the purpose of this new course and was provided with a copy of the letter. Inquiries concerning the course and waiver procedures were directed to appropriate office staff. Courses were scheduled based upon demand. The PAL Course was conducted in one day at a pool facility. An individual has to be a minimum of 18 years old to register to take the PAL Course. The PAL certification is valid for three years and the cost to take the course is $95. These courses were available within two months of camp opening. Waivers were submitted and reviewed by two office staff. Approvals were entered into the New York State database and a copy was provided to the camp facility. The start-up cost equated to approximately 10% of one staff-year salary. This time was spent on forming ideas to address the issue, evaluating material, developing a course of action and finally executing a plan. Following the first year there was only an in-kind cost that was significantly less and equated to 2% of one staff-year salary to process the waiver forms and respond to camp inquiries.  Implementation1. The NCDOH estimated from existing camp records the total number of camps affected by the 2004 amendments to the New York State’s Children’s Camp Code. 2. The NCDOH met with the Aquatic Coordinator of the local chapter of the American Red Cross (ARC) to discuss the issue and determine if it was possible, as well as feasible, to develop a new course. 3. Course curriculum from the ARC Lifeguard Management, Basic Water Rescue and Waterfront Lifeguarding courses were reviewed by the ARC Aquatics Coordinator and the NCDOH to determine relevant learning objectives to form the curriculum of the Pool Activity Leader (PAL) Course. 4. The NCDOH held several telephone conferences with the regional and main offices of the NYSDOH to discuss the use of the course as an alternative to a requirement of the Children’s Camp code. 5. The NCDOH sent a letter, attached with the proposed PAL curriculum, to the regional and main offices of the NYSDOH for their review and acceptance of the PAL Course. 6. Upon the NYSDOH’s acceptance of the PAL Course, the NCDOH prepared a letter to be sent to all camp facilities, annually permitted in Nassau County, informing them of the PAL Course. 7. The NCDOH created a sample waiver form. 8. The NCDOH utilized an existing Camp database to send camps facilities the Department’s letter with the sample waiver form as an attachment. 9. The NCDOH responded to numerous telephone calls regarding the course following the notification to the camps. 10. The NCDOH reviewed existing camp records to determine the maximum number of camps that could seek a waiver request. This was done in the first year to sufficiently plan to process waiver requests. 11. The ARC Aquatic Coordinator evaluated the credentials of potential instructors. 12. The ARC Aquatics Coordinator contacted the operators of several pool sites to secure locations to conduct the course. 13. The ARC Aquatics Coordinator provided a list of course dates to the NCDOH for dissemination to camp facilities. 14. The ARC Aquatics Coordinator registered interested applicants and received payment for the course. 15. Course record sheets were completed by the instructor and submitted to the local chapter of the ARC. 16. Students who successfully completed the PAL Course were issued a certification card valid for 3 years. 17. Camps submitted waiver requests to the NCDOH. This was done concurrently while students were taking the class. 18. Waiver requests were entered into the New York State database system. 19. The NCDOH generated waiver approval forms by utilizing the New York State database system which were signed by the Chief Environmental Health Official of the NCDOH. 20. Inspectors provided the waiver approvals to the Camps at the pre-opening inspections upon verification of PAL certification credentials. 21. The NCDOH tallied the total number of waivers issued to determine the number of camps who utilized the PAL Course as an alternative to a requirement of the Children’s Code. This was compared to the total number of estimated camps that seek to utilize an off-site bathing facility. 22. Copies of the PAL certification cards were shown to the Department’s inspectors, as part of a camps pre-opening inspection. 1. A two-month timeframe to conduct three meetings and review ARC course curriculum to form the PAL Course. (December 2007–January 2008) 2. A three-month timeframe to communicate and receive guidance from the NYSDOH, forward a course curriculum and await their acceptance of the PAL Course. (January 2008–March2008) 3. A one-month timeframe to draft a letter, create a sample form letter and mail to all camps that seek an annual permit. (April 2008) 4. A three-month time frame to respond to numerous telephone calls regarding the PAL Course. (April 2008–June 2008) 5. A four-month timeframe for the ARC to evaluate potential instructors, secure a couple of course locations and dates, register applicants, process completed course
The goal of the Nassau County Department of Health was to provide camps with the PAL Course that could be used as an alternative to a NYS Children’s Camp code requirement that would teach the necessary safety and supervisory skills needed to permit a camp to engage in off-site bathing activities. To coordinate and collaborate with the American Red Cross to develop and offer the Pool Activity Leader course. 1. To successfully develop the PAL Course by April 2008. 2. To secure course sites by April 2008. 3. To select a qualified instructor to teach the course by May 2008. 4. To provide a sufficient number of course dates for May and June of each year. 5. To register all camp staff interested in taking the course. 6. The successful execution of the course.   1. The ARC Aquatics Coordinator and the NCDOH reviewed course curriculum from the ARC Lifeguard Management, Basic Water Rescue and Waterfront Lifeguarding courses in December 2007 through January 2008. 2. The ARC Aquatics Coordinator and the NCDOH compiled relevant learning objectives to form the PAL Course by the end of January 2008. 3. The ARC Aquatics coordinator evaluated the credentials and experience of candidates to assign this course for instruction. 4. Course record sheets were completed by the instructor and submitted to the local chapter of the ARC.   1. The NCDOH met with the Aquatic Coordinator of the local chapter of the ARC on three occasions within seven months prior to the onset of the camp season. 2. The ARC Aquatics Coordinator contacted the operators of several pool sites one month prior to registering students for each year. 3. The ARC Aquatics Coordinator provided course dates to the NCDOH for dissemination to camp facilities by April of each year. 4. The ARC Aquatics Coordinator registered interested applicants and received payment for the course. 5. Students who successfully completed the course were issued a certification card valid for 3 years.   1. Sufficient time was planned for the ARC Aquatics Coordinator to respond to numerous telephone inquiries regarding the course. 2. Lessons were learned from teaching the course. Additional instruction materials were added to reinforce training. This included a second DVD that was shown to reinforce where to stand on the pool deck, how to recognize someone in distress and how to respond to a head/neck/back injury. The ARC Water Safety Handbook was issued to the students to keep as a quick reference guide. The ARC Lifeguarding manual was used to teach victim recognition. 3. Camps located in a neighboring county contacted the ARC expressing interest in the PAL Course.   1. The course was developed by March 2008. 2. An individual who is a certified Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguard Instructor taught the course. 3. Two course sites were secured by April 2008. 4. Course registration was offered by May 2008. 5. All camp staff successfully completed the course.The majority of applicants took the course in June of each year. 6. Seven courses were conducted in May through June 2008 with a total attendance of 110 students. 7. Four courses were provided in May through June 2009 with a total attendance of 59 students. 8. An unintended outcome was the value camp owners and operators placed with this course by sending staff who remain on camp property to this course for training. 9. An unintended outcome of the creation of this course was the registration of students who work at camps that operate outside of Nassau County’s jurisdiction. The second objective was to outreach to the New York State Department of Health. 1. To receive an acceptance of the PAL Course by April 2008.1. The Chief Sanitarian of the Recreational Environmental Health Section, Bureau of Community Environmental Health and Food Protection of the NYSDOH evaluated the PAL Course curriculum in February–March 2008.
There is a serious commitment by the ARC and children’s camps to perpetuate the PAL Course. The ARC is dedicated to training people who are responsible for the safe oversight of children engaged in bathing activities. Their commitment to safety has been long established since before the development of the PAL Course. Children’s camps must ensure that they are providing a significant level of protection to the children they oversee. The PAL Course provides training towards children’s safety in an off-site bathing facility. The NCDOH considers the PAL Course to be the most suitable form of training to meet the intent of the Children’s Camps Code requirement for camps that utilize an off-site bathing facility that is provided with qualified lifeguards. Children’s camps permitted under Chapter I, Subpart 7-2 of the NYSSC will continue to maintain this training since they are bound to the conditions of a waiver and the PAL Course certification must be renewed every 3 years. The camps incur the cost of the PAL Course. This payment is provided to the ARC to conduct the course.
 
Processing...


Driving Walking/Biking Public Transit  Get Directions