Aquatics Center may move away from Red Cross

Thursday, March 10, 2022

With having enough lifeguard candidates an annual difficulty lately and lifesaving certification always an issue, the Greencastle Aquatics Center is looking into a solution for both via Star Guard Elite.

Matt Williams, the new assistant aquatics director for the Parks Department, suggested the change during the Park Board’s recent March meeting.

Williams, who is familiar with Star Guard Elite firsthand through experience at Indiana Beach, said switching from Red Cross training to Star Guard instruction would allow more in-house training and internal safety audits at the pool.

A $5,000 annual fee to Star Guard would provide 30 licenses and a two in-house instructors.

“We train them, they’re our lifeguards,” Williams said, noting that the Star Guard method validates guards’ skills and makes sure they are “rescue ready,” all of which looks good to the city’s insurance holder.

“We’ve never done that before,” Assistant Park Director Chrysta Snellenberger said of the park training its own lifeguard staff.

Having guards as young as 15, an improved level of training that instills more confidence can be a big boost, Mayor Bill Dory said, noting that one of the reasons for hiring Williams well before the pool season was to ensure that enough lifeguards could be hired to run the pool effectively since the new slides require one guard at the top and oner at the bottom.

“We certainly don’t have $5,000 in the (park) budget for this, but it could come from another funding source,” the mayor said. “We can go ahead and keep this moving forward, we don’t have to wait until the Park Board meeting next month.”

Snellenberger said she believes the program is better than Red Cross because the training is required each year, not every two years like Red Cross.

“Red Cross hasn’t really helped us the last couple of years,” she added. “We couldn’t even get Red Cross to send me the (lifeguards’) certifications last year.”

Aquatics centers are moving away from Red Cross training and certifications in a couple areas, Williams said, adding that the Star Guard Elite program has shown at places like Indy Parks and Recreation that it can increase staff retention as lifeguards “are proud to be here.”

Park Board member Pete Meyer, who had experience operating facilities in Florida, said the park having its own instructor on site, “you could teach as you go. And if you need to fill in, you can get them up to speed without any overhead cost.”

City Councilor Stacie Langdon, in the audience as City Council liaison to the Park Department, suggested “it might be worth a phone call to our insurance carrier” to see if added training from Star Guard might mean a better insurance rate for the city.

The Park Board took no action on Williams’ suggestion, taking it under consideration. However, Mayor Dory said the matter can be dealt with directly as an administrative function if additional investigation proves fruitful.

In other business, the Park Board:

-- Learned that Saturday, April 9 is the scheduled date for the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Robe-Ann Park, an event that was canceled the past two years due to Covid. Rain date would be April 16.

-- Heard Park Maintenance Director David Bault report that all Robe-Ann Park gates have been opened to help with traffic flow and take advantage of the nicer weather that is bringing more people to the park.

-- Heard Bault announce the annual Fishing Derby is set for Saturday, June 4 at Jaycee Park pond.

-- Learned that Kona Ice has sold its mobile units, so it won’t be selling at the park as it did last summer when the city realized more than $1,000 profit in sales by Kona. Concessions manager Joanna Muncie is hopeful of bringing Kona back for special events or weekends.

-- Approved Lifespring Christian Church for a summer service in the park from 6-8 p.m. on June 26. Church will use the bandshell and shelterhouse No. 1 on the hillside as it conducts a “Bridges to Community” miniseries of services.

-- Approved a Friday, June 10 community pool party sponsored by First Baptist Church. The 5:30-7:30 p.m. event drew more than 300 people last year. Free hotdogs and chips will be provided.

-- Approved permission for the addition of two batting cages for the Greencastle Youth Softball Association as explained by league spokesman Andrew O’Hair. The cages will be erected in the flat area along Field 3. With poles donated by Hendricks Power already on site and in the ground as soon as possible, the project is expected to be complete with netting and all by April 1, O’Hair said.

-- Approved contracts for the soccer, softball and baseball leagues to play at Big Walnut Sports Park. Unless otherwise agreed upon, the leagues are responsible for mowing areas inside their fences as well as common areas.

-- Agreed to the annual arrangement with the Gobin Summer Enrichment Program that allows the children to swim for free after taking swimming lessons for which the summer program pays.

President Cathy Merrell was joined for the 90-minute meeting by Meyer and O’Hair with Tim Trigg absent.

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  • What does this mean for children who jumped through hoops to be certified though the Red Cross in the past few years? Extra training? More money spent for new training?

    -- Posted by hop7363 on Fri, Mar 11, 2022, at 8:35 PM
  • Off the subject, but, why have overhead lights at the pool been on 24\7 since before Christmas? It doesn’t seem a good use of taxpayer money. Maybe purchasing a timer would be a good investment.

    -- Posted by 3m50 on Sat, Mar 12, 2022, at 8:34 AM
  • Be aware that Star Guard certifications can only be used at Star Guard facilities that have paid the $5,000 annual fee. Currently, those guards could not work at the high schools, Lilly Center, or local state parks unless they were duly certified with the Red Cross. Many of the park lifeguards supplement their income during the school year and summer at these facilities.

    -- Posted by 3m50 on Sat, Mar 12, 2022, at 8:43 AM
  • 3m50 good call on the lights!

    -- Posted by Rainbow6 on Sun, Mar 13, 2022, at 7:07 AM
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