Near-drowning triggers increased safety measures at YMCA summer camps
By Tory N. Parrish
Published: Friday, July 12, 2013, 11:33 p.m.
Youngsters who swim at YMCA summer camps must wear wristbands color-coded to their skill level under a policy prompted by the near-drowning of a child last month, officials said.
The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh implemented rules on Monday that also seek to reduce the size of groups of children at play in the water.
In addition to improving safety, the measures will allow more interaction between campers and counselors, said Todd Brinkman, district vice president of camping services.
“And that's been a priority of our camps always,” he said.
On June 13, a 6-year-old boy and other children in a YMCA summer camp at Carson Middle School in McCandless were using the outdoor pool at Baierl Family YMCA in Franklin Park. Lifeguards said the boy “did not appear to be conscious or breathing at the time that he was rescued from the pool,” the state Department of Public Welfare said in a June 21 report.
Lifeguards turned the boy's head to the side, allowing him to cough up water and clear his airway, said Brinkman, who said the child did not have to be resuscitated.
The Welfare Department found that a camp employee was unable to locate another child for about two minutes on June 20 at the pool. It ordered the middle school's camp to be closed.
Child care staff were not assigned to supervise specific children, according to the report, which found “gross incompetence, negligence and misconduct in operating a facility likely to constitute an immediate and serious danger to the life or health of the children in care.”
The YMCA leases the space in the school from North Allegheny School District, Brinkman said. That camp location will not reopen this summer, he said.
The YMCA has worked to strengthen its pool safety for at least a year, but the Baierl YMCA incident hastened the process, Brinkman said.
“We decided to make it universal across the board for (the new rules),” he said.
The policy breaks swimmers into smaller groups — five children to each counselor, as opposed to 15 children with three counselors, he said.
Children will wear wristbands that denote their swimming skills: red for nonswimmers, yellow for middle-level swimmers and green for advanced swimmers.
The YMCA fired several counselors at the middle school camp and will randomly check staffers to see if they can identify and locate campers without help.
The YMCA agreed to suspend its camp swimming programs until it investigated all of the sites, Welfare spokeswoman Anne Bale said.
Most of the swimming programs have been reinstated, and the rest likely will be within days, Brinkman said.
Last year, about 2,000 children participated in YMCA summer camps, he said.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- River users hoping the Ohio can earn state honors
- 50 ‘most valuable people’ honored at Stargell banquet
- Police say fellow cop arrested for drunk driving after coming to work intoxicated
- East Liberty transit project shrinks as construction costs top estimates
- Pittsburgh mayor tweets shots at police lieutenant who moonlights as referee
- Pennsylvania parents of children with epilepsy pin hopes on pot bill
- Long-overdue memorial to region’s World War II vets opens
- Civil justice system discourages transparency, experts say
- Nonprofits’ fiscal issues investigated by state Attorney General Kane
- Gas drilling in Allegheny parks still a possibility
- Newsmaker: Mark Kamlet