The city is planning on installing underwater cameras at pools around Edmonton but some are questioning the effectiveness in preventing drowning.
Rob Campbell, supervisor of Aquatic Strategies for the city, tells Global News they work with signage and cutting glare down, and this is just the next step.
“What we’re looking at here is a sort of underwater surveillance technology process, which could involve anything from underwater surveillance units, computerized units, which monitor swimmers activities and identify people in distress,” Campbell told Global News.
Brian Bowers, a lifeguard for 33 years and former city Aquatic Department programmer who now serves as aquatic supervisor at the U of A, tells Global News, he thinks the money would be better spent elsewhere.
“I’m more concerned with lifeguards forgetting what their actual job is, which is preventing of the incident occurring in the first place,” explained Bowers. “Allowing the staff to react to the situation that they may not have necessarily seen, makes it a reactive type process.”
Barbara Cost ache, with the Lifesaving Society of Alberta, tells Global News she doesn’t feel swimming pool drownings are a big enough problem to justify the plan.
“It is not that big of an issue, we have a very small percentage,” explained Costache to Global News. “When a drowning does occur in a public pool it is usually due to a series of events that led to that tragedy.”
Costache says the percentage of people drowning in pools is very small and this move will just add another cost.
“What the technology does is it doesn’t prevent and it doesn’t respond,” explained Costache. “It only can assist in the recognition.”
Bowers says the money would be better spent elsewhere.
“Increasing some of the ratios at some of the facilities would be great but the training of the staff, making sure they are able to recognize the drowning response,” added Bowers.
Campbell says the cameras would be a live feed and send an alert to lifeguards if something is wrong.
Two separate drownings in city pools in 2012 led to the request for approval.
A report from the Lifesaving Society released this year suggests there were 28 drowning deaths in Alberta in 2014 and 15 in 2015 but only eight per cent were in pools.
There is no details on how much the plan will cost. (twd, Global News)