World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2013

10-23-13 Potsdam, Germany

I have had some pretty amazing opportunities with ISLA (speaking to congress, flying in helicopters, and surfing in lakes to mention a few), and I will definitely include The World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2013 right up there at the top.  There were people from all over the place presenting on everything from Tsunami rescue, underwater intubation, studies testing lifeguard effectiveness, rescue boat driving, developing world drowning statistics, drowning epidemiology, and a myriad of other topics.  The presentations were very informative and I learned a ton, but the best part of the conference was meeting and networking with the brilliant and incredible people involved in the drowning prevention community.

Two of my favorite presentations where by legends Dr. Richard Franklin on the difficulty in collecting data on the global drowning epidemic, and the other by Norm Farmer on the importance of collaboration in drowning prevention.  Most of my undergraduate research papers used studies and papers that Dr. Franklin published out of James Cook University in Australia, so seeing him and then getting the chance to chat with him after was awesome.  Other great people I got the chance to meet and have good talks with were Dr. Rob Brander (AKA Dr. Rip) who has done phenomenal research revolving around rip currents, ILS Vice President of the Americas Region Peter Davis from Galveston,  and Kim Jarvis from the Princess of Monaco Foundation.  I could go on and on about the incredible people I got to talk to, I can’t wait to see these people again as we continue to work together!

I also got the chance to finally meet the infamous Rebecca Wear Robinson.  If you have even the slightest inkling of working in Drowning Prevention, you have most definitely seen Rebecca on social media or her blog.  Rebecca is a trained business woman and social psychologist dedicated to ending global drowning, and her perspectives on using business and marketing principals in the drowning prevention field are making waves everywhere she goes.  Rebecca has been working with ISLA for about a year advising the core management team on different ideas and projects, and it was so great to finally get to meet her!  She is an incredible human being, gives brilliant advice, and loved very much by the ISLA family.

I know most of what I’ve already written is pretty positive, but I do have to say that the best part of the conference was the time that I got to spend after hours with Justin, Matt, and Andrew from Lifeguards Without Borders, Dan and Tom form Nile Swimmers, and Steve Wills from RNLI.  Our four groups are all young, small, and working in drowning prevention in the developing world.  It was incredible to me that 95% of the conference had to do with drowning prevention or rescue work in the first world when only 5% of the people that drown annually are from the developed world.

I’m not saying that talking about helicopter and boat rescue or how to manage a multi million dollar rescue agency budget is bad, but soon this community is going to have to talk about the drowning epidemic in the developing world more seriously.  Our little alliance talked extensively each night about how we could collaborate and help each other out, which techniques were working and which were not, and how we could continue to push the envelope to the “powers that be” in the drowning prevention community to create more space for developing countries to be included and aided in the plight curb drowning rates where they are highest.  I feel honored that I was sitting at the table with such bright, young, and driven people.  ISLA will have some big things in the future collaborating with these groups, not to mention that everyone involved is a rockin’ good time!  The next World Conference on Drowning Prevention is in 2015 in Malaysia, and I can’t wait for the big things that are going to happen between now and then!

Just a few more minutes and then some of our little crew are2 off to the train station to play around in Prague for a few days!