Following the Victorian coroner’s findings last week that the drowning death of a 23-year-old student in a public pool could have been avoided, a leading pool technology company said life-saving technology exists, but it’s not being adopted by authorities in Australia.
Maytronics Australia Managing Director Dan Kwaczynski said the computer vision system developed by his company had been installed in pools across Asia, Japan, Canada, Europe and the USA – saving 30 lives over the past 15 years – but only two systems had been installed here in Australia.
“Despite our efforts, Blacktown in NSW is the only local council that has taken the initiative to install the system and it’s helping to save lives,” Mr Kwaczynski said.
The company’s drowning detection product (Poseidon) detects drownings via a computer vision camera system, which provides ‘eyes’ on the water and alerts the lifeguard via a display panel and alarm system when a drowning is occurring. It shows them precisely where the person is located in the pool, so an immediate rescue can occur.
“Australian guidelines stipulate a ratio of 100 people to one lifeguard,” said Mr Kwaczynski. “That makes it very hard on the lifeguard – almost impossible if the pool is busy.
“A lifeguard has just 10 seconds to detect a drowning and the rescue must occur in 20 seconds – studies have shown lifeguards meet this less than 20 per cent of the time.
“It’s not their fault. They are very good at what they do, but the trouble is people sink quickly, so it can be very difficult to know when someone is drowning.
“Our technology is designed to provide extra layers of protection and is intended to complement the work of lifeguards, by providing extra eyes across the pool at all times.”
Mr Kwaczynski says it costs around $20 million to build a public pool and their Poseidon system costs around $250,000, less than 1.5% of the total expenditure.
“I’m not sure why our local authorities do not invest in this life saving technology that many other countries have made mandatory,” he said.
“In Victoria alone, seven deaths in the past two years may have been preventable. It’s just a shame that it takes the death of this young man to consider change.
“Each month we see more and more public pools installing the system. Hong Kong was one of our most recent, with its system going live just last month.”