Having recently come from the Australian construction industry, I was confident that I would quickly understand the SwimEye products. Cameras, cables, control boxes, network switches and computers. Add some unique software and you have autonomous, under-water CCTV that makes our swimming pools safer. Pretty simple, right? But what is less obvious, are the flow-on mental health benefits that SwimEye provides to pool lifeguards.
SwimEye is very much comparable other safety technologies, such as the automatic vision systems in modern cars. Think; adaptive cruise control and auto-stopping assist which have been offered by car retailers for several years now (undertake a quick web-search if needed).
Another older and more straightforward example is the portable baby monitor. Baby monitors have created a “higher quality of life” for worrisome new parents, and have done so, for many years now. How many of us can relate to this example?
But I digress.
SwimEye is a technical support for lifeguards, not a replacement
What I didn’t realise about SwimEye, was the unique layers of support it provides to pool lifeguards. You see, our technology does not replace pool lifeguards and you do not “set-and-forget” SwimEye. Put simply:
“SwimEye is a technical aid that supports the work of our pool lifeguards.”
SwimEye is just like the whistle, buoy and high chair. Except, that SwimEye is more like an extra set of eyes, under the water of your swimming pool. And just like these static support tools, SwimEye must be adopted into the work of lifeguards, to be useful and successful.
Lifeguards do some extraordinary work to keep us safe
I am also learning about the swimming pool sector. Notably, the challenges that lifeguards face in their daily role.
Lifeguards have extended hours, often strange outdoor or humid climatic conditions, and, they walk laps of a pool or sit sedentary in a chair. All throughout this, they must remain focused and vigilant, and they also deal with sunlight, glare, shadows and blind spots.
Additionally and most importantly, lifeguards continue to systematically scan our pool waters, looking for any signs of distress.
I challenge you (the reader), to consider how these conditions would affect your focus at work or home?
I know I struggle to maintain concentration with late afternoon sun coming in through the window, even with the blinds drawn closed. Let alone focusing on my work, with the added responsibility of keeping dozens of other people safe.
The best available HMS tool for lifeguards
Having SwimEye allows lifeguards to see clearly down into the water at all times. Plus, SwimEye is always automatically monitoring the bottom of the pool for swimmers in severe distress. But what we don’t see are the intangible effects that SwimEye provides to our pool lifeguards.
Just like the baby monitor and car safety systems, SwimEye provides an extra layer of “moral support” for pool lifeguards. With SwimEye watching the bottom of the pool, lifeguards effectively operate under improved workplace conditions. They have the subtle knowledge that SwimEye might just help them save a life. This simple realisation is demonstrated to reduce a lifeguard’s general stress level caused by workplace pressures. Just as the baby monitoring helps us “relax” for a few minutes while baby is sleeping.
Improving workplace conditions is an excellent by-product of implementing SwimEye. This can have many positive flow-on effects on workplace culture.
Here it is also worth pondering the implications, of a drowning incident, on the mental health of pool lifeguards and pool staff. And inversely the net-benefit-effect of preventing a drowning incident with SwimEye.
The positive role of SwimEye technology
Computer vision detection systems like SwimEye were borne to serve pool lifeguards and by doing so, create a safer environment for swimmers. Too often, technology is given a negative review because it can replace human activities and take jobs. But this is not the case with SwimEye.
I assure you, after one month with the SwimEye team, I can see that this is one of those excellent examples of technology “supporting” and “improving” human activities. Drowning detection systems are most certainly here to help.
SwimEye reduces several of the challenges that face our lifeguards and it adds an active element of technological support in the most challenging part of our pools.
If you haven’t seen SwimEye at work or the fantastic, clear vision that it provides into a pool, please contact us today, or view this video link for a quick demonstration. I also welcome your lifeguarding stories and experiences, as I being my journey into the public swimming pool and lifeguarding industry.
Editorial written by Nic Sutherland – SwimEye, Technical Manager