Monday, May 30, 2016

Pool Operations 101

by Sandy Kellogg

Aquatic Operations Supervisor, Mount Vernon RECenter
Fairfax County Park Authority
VRPS Aquatics Resource Group 2016 Chair
VRPS 2016 Awards Co-Chair

I started as a pool operator 6 years ago.  Through a lot of on the job training and some certification classes I have slowly gotten pretty good.  One thing has changed significantly though, and maybe not as quickly as it should!

Jesse, Head Lifeguard at Mount Vernon RECenter
I came into aquatics after raising three boys, homeschooling them all up to high school while following my husband to several Army bases around the country.  Becoming a lifeguard at 40 and then an aquatic manager at 45 is not your typical path into parks and recreation!  My management position was the first full time job I ever had, HR was very patient explaining the mysteries of 401k’s and retirement plans.  I was so proud the first time I backwashed by myself, especially since my facility has an open pit DE system where backwashing is not just a chore, it’s an art!  I am very good with mechanical systems, and I learned a lot trouble shooting an older system and getting that last little bit of flow rate.  But…..

I wore the stains and holes in my clothing with pride.  Only real career professionals have chlorine stains, which quickly develop into holes, in all their pants legs.  Blue shirts actually turn a lovely pink when chlorine sprays out of a Stenner, and I thought I looked awesome in my clothes that proclaimed to the world that I was a pool operator, dealing with serious equipment and serious chemicals.

The problem was that I didn’t take it seriously.  PPE was for guards who weren’t as careful as I was, or as much a professional.  Duct tape and improvisation, chemical splashes and drips, that all meant that I was ‘one of the guys’, a pool mechanic and miracle worker.

It wasn’t until I was training my staff that I realized what an idiot I had been.  Splashes on clothes could just as easily be splashes in my face, acid in your eyes is not inconvenient, it is permanent.  Stains on my clothes did proclaim that I’m a pool operator, but I’ve come to understand that it means I’m a bad pool operator.  Every stain proclaims to a staff member that I am not practicing what I preach, and it is a very short leap to them doing the same.  So I bought new pants, threw away stained shirts, and promised to try to never announce that I am a pool operator just by my clothing.  My staff will see me doing what I expect them to do, keeping us all safe and chemical free.

Anthony, Lifeguard at Martin Luther King Jr. Outdoor Pool

1 comment:

  1. It is just what I was looking for and quite thorough as well.
    Thanks for posting this, I saw a couple other similar posts but yours was the best so far. The ideas are strongly pointed out and clearly emphasized.