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Digital Documentation

Moving Records to the Cloud

By Kevin Post

When was the last time you reviewed your facility day to day operational records?  Once a season or year? Not since the last time you created it?  Is it the same one you’ve used for years?  Documentation of maintenance issues, safety inspections, and water quality results is more important now than ever, but there are very few facilities who are as diligent as the law requires.  With more government agencies in both the US and Canada adopting the Model Aquatic Health Code, we have a new industry standard to follow for pool operating procedures and best practices. The last thing you want to worry about in the face of potential litigation or a public health crisis is if your aquatic team has followed the proper procedures for documentation requirements. Many organizations are turning toward digital storage and processing of their records to ensure they are complete and safely stored.  There are many options to consider, so make sure you are getting not only what you want, but what will keep you safe.

Checklist

Every facility has some sort of checklist they follow on either a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.  These could include daily opening and closing procedures, weekly cleaning duties, or monthly maintenance items.  The challenge with our current paper method is that there is typically no accountability for items that need correction.  Safety checks are the primary method of facility surveillance. You, your lifeguards or others such as those who handle facility operations and maintenance—or a combination of both—may perform these checks.  If these checks are to be useful, they need to include procedures for reporting issues and following up.  How often does your manager comment that the shower is still leaking and maintenance hasn’t come to fix it?  What if the checklist they filled out every day would automatically send alerts and reminders?  With a digital tool, this is not only possible, but automated.

A safety check is a quick method of assessing the condition of your facility and includes an evaluation of the areas of your facility such as: communication equipment, rescue, first aid and safety equipment, operational equipment such as lifeguard stands, lane lines, bulkheads and starting blocks, pool decks or waterfront shorelines, waterpark attractions, locker rooms (dressing/shower areas, restrooms), chemical storage areas, fencing, access points.

Other checklists may include a daily oxygen or AED checklist, a diving board or water slide checklist, or even a concessions areas checklist.  Another benefit of digital tools, is the ability to customize and create new checklist as items arise that require documentation.

In-services and Trainings

Another area that is critically important to document is your on-going training.  Every guards should meet an in-service requirement before taking the stand, but how do you ensure that every single guard has completed their in-service?  Your in-service records should include the dates and time of the in-service, what topics were covered and who attended.  With old paper records, it is hard to track attendance by person and confirm that they’ve recently attended one.  By using digital forms, you can create a dashboard that can highlight guards who have met this requirement versus the ones who haven’t. 

Pool Chemicals Records

One of the most regular items documented at an aquatic facility is the water chemistry.  These readings should be performed and recorded several times per day and even as up to once or twice an hour.  Historically, these readings were written down in a notebook that was stored in the pump room.  This notebook would get splashed on, have spills, illegible hand writing, and even torn or missing pages.  With digital documentation, the information is safely stored in the cloud for future access.  Additionally, with a digital tool you have the added benefit of your records informing you about non-compliance and even recommending actions for correction.

Pool Closures

Whether it’s a contamination issue (you know which one I’m referring to) or weather related, no one likes to close their pool.  But when you do, you need to document why you closed and what actions were taken to minimize potential risks.  Depending on the reason you had to close, different sets of information needs to be documented.  This makes it hard to create one piece of paper that can work for all situations.  Why would you write down the last time you heard thunder, when you closed due to poor water quality?  So, you either have to create specific forms for each reason for closure, or have blank sections on your forms.  With a digital tool, you can use dynamic forms that only require you to fill in information related to your specific reason for closure.  Now, your information is complete and safely stored for future reference.  Another benefit of digital tools, is that you can run reports that can show you the most common reason for closure, the frequency of closures by facility or timeline, and several other areas for you to identify trends and gain insight. 

Illness or Injury

Similar to pool closures, every illness or injury that occurs in your facility should be documented.  But not every incident requires the same information.  This is where digital forms help make things easier.  By having a dynamic form that allows you to select the type of incident, you now have a flexible form for all the various situations.

Lifeguard Evaluations and Certifications

After a lifeguard is initially trained, the facility is responsible for keeping up with the on-going education and evaluations.  Like in-service records, it becomes difficult to track who has been evaluated, what area they were tested, how they scored during the last test, and so on.  How do you know that the lifeguard who only works on Tuesday’s has had a skill review?  By using a digital tool, this information is easily tracked and viewable. 

Code Compliance

The biggest benefit of using a digital tool, is the ability to add supporting information and reference points.  Whether it’s listing the out of range values for water chemistry, providing the Model Aquatic Health Code’s procedures for handling fecal related incidents, or just a PDF of your facility handbook, all of these items help empower your team to be the best they can be. 

In today’s fast-paced society, our new generation of employees don’t want to use paper forms, but rather prefer a digital tool that is accessible, easy to use, customizable, and current.  In today’s world of litigation and risk, proper documentation is a key component of any risk management system.  With several options for aquatic specific digital tools, it should be easy for anyone to find a solution that works for their facility.

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