July 20, 2018
Dollywood's Splash Country lifeguards are among the best in the industry. And I can prove it. Earlier this week, we received our 17th consecutive EXCEEDS score. Let me explain why that is impressive: Our water park and lifeguards are certified through Jeff Ellis & Associates (E&A), a company that specializes in international aquatic safety and risk management consultation. That's a mouthful for people who train lifeguards across the globe. E&A not only teaches lifeguards the skills needed to keep guests safe at a water park, they also audit the guards at these facilities through unannounced observations.
Three times during the summer season, an E&A auditor will come to Dollywood's Splash Country without our prior knowledge. They buy a ticket and wear what other water park guests wear. They're not marked, different auditors visit, and because everyone has their phones out getting pictures and videos these days, they're pretty hard to spot.
Once in the park, E&A randomly selects guards and then covertly evaluates them performing their job. The auditors check lifeguards on nine different skills including proactive zone scanning, eye contact with the water, and being rescue ready. The auditor even records video evidence to back up the way they score our guards. At the end of their observation, E&A lets our Aquatics Supervisor know that they're ready to chat about what they saw.
In addition to individual, random audits, E&A also chooses teams of lifeguards to perform drills and then evaluate group skills, such as a guest in distress simulation including a spinal and an unconscious emergency. The scores are self-explanatory:
For 17 consecutive audits now, our guards have EXCEEDED expectations for E&A clients. This thorough report is about 25 pages long and lists what was observed of each of the random guards selected, how the simulated emergency drill went, and how organized and professional our administration team is. Meeting standards is reason to celebrate-but the fact that we have EXCEEDED expectations 17 times in a row is worth bragging about.
The pictures you see are the guards who were evaluated during this latest audit. Give them a pat on the back the next time you run into them at our park. But know that they may not make eye contact to say thank you because they're going to stay hyper-focused on their zones! Now if you've had doubts about going in on a swim as one of your things to do this summer, I hope these achievements wash away those doubts!
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