As 2019 winds down, you’re probably thinking more about ice skating than swimming. But here at Carowinds we have aquatics safety on our minds all year long. Just after Carolina Harbor closed we received the results of our summer safety audits from Ellis & Associates, who recognized our lifeguards with a platinum rating for exceeding industry standards.
Founded in 1983, Ellis & Associates, Inc. is an industry-leading organization specializing in aquatics safety. Each year, our lifeguards undergo intensive training and regular audits. During these audits, which are unannounced, Ellis & Associates safety experts pose as regular guests and film lifeguards as they work. They review the videos with the lifeguards and their managers and evaluate their skills onsite. The auditors also grade the staff on CPR, rescue techniques and other safety skills, and review overall team management.
A platinum rating indicates that the team rated “exceed expectations” for 100% of audits conducted throughout the summer.
“Receiving Ellis’s highest rating is a reflection of the intense effort we put into our program and the team’s diligent work,” said Jacob Wilks, area manager of aquatics. “Lifeguards have a passion for community safety.”
Wilks has been a lifeguard for almost a decade and has worked his way up through dedication to safety and skill building. He is now not only a manager but a certified lifeguard master instructor, meaning he trains lifeguards as well as other instructors.
“Ellis & Associates runs a very challenging program, but that’s what makes it so satisfying and rewarding. Lifeguarding teaches not just life-saving skills but also accountability and discipline,” he said. “Being held to such high standards ensures we’re working at our best.”
Wilks and his supervisory team will spend the winter months attending Ellis’s safety school program for continuing education and recertification programs, and preparing for lifeguard training in the spring of 2020. They’ll start by training new instructors and recertifying experienced instructors, training not just for Carowinds but for other area aquatics facilities.
“A successful waterpark facility starts with a strong culture built around safety, Wilks said. “The Carowinds culture is special. I’m excited to work with such a dedicated team and to continue to build on our strengths. We’re here to ensure guests are safe while they’re having fun.”