Local program to get international attention at drowning prevention conference in South Africa

The World Conference on Drowning Prevention will have a Prince Albert connection when it kicks off in South Africa.

Lauren Haubrich, an aquatics programmer at Prince Albert’s Kinsmen Water Park, is part of the Canadian contingent headed to the bi-annual event. Haubrich was selected to give a presentation about educating lifeguards on the hazards of working in excessive sun and heat, and she’s excited to have the opportunity to speak on the world stage.

“I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done here at the water park over the last couple of years, so I’m really glad that it’s going to be recognized on a large scale,” Haubrich said during an interview on Tuesday. “I think that what we’ve done is really valuable.”

Haubrich’s presentation will revolve around a pilot program and website started at Kinsmen Water Park in cooperation with Sun Smart Saskatchewan in 2016. That program was based on a survey of the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of lifeguards across Saskatchewan. Since then, the program has drawn national and international attention.

“It took a couple of years to get to where we are today, to change the attitudes and behaviors and habits of lifeguards and other outdoor workers about being safe in the sun,” Haubrich said. “I’m kind of excited to share our journey, and share resources that not only organizations, but maybe instructors or facilitators or people who are in charge of policy making, can take back to their hometowns or countries or provinces or states.”

This will be Haubrich’s first time speaking on the international stage. She’s worked as a swimming instructor since 2007, and started at the Kinsmen Water Park in 2009.

Conferences like this one are a great way to keep lifeguards and rescue crews from around the world up to date on best practices, she said. Lifesaving techniques and practices have changed over time, so events like this one go a long way to keeping everyone safe.

“I know we’ve helped lots of pools within the province go towards being sun-safe with lifeguards,” she said. “Now it’s something that we can do to help people not only across the country, but around the world.”

The 2019 World Conference on Drowning Prevention (WCDP) is scheduled for Oct. 8-10 in Durban, South Africa. The event is hosted by the International Lifesaving Society, with the goal of continuing to work towards addressing the WHO’s 2014 Global Report on Drowning.