A Collier County public pool is the first in the southeastern United States to get a drowning prevention system. It’s a device to provide alerts when a swimmer has been under water too long.
Eagle Lakes Community Park Aquatic Facility in Collier County recently adopted lifesaving technology created by WAVE Drowning Detection Systems.
How it works: You put a device on a swimmer’s head or on their goggles. If their head is under water for too long, the system developed by WAVE alerts parents or lifeguards.
Dad Olaudah Parker has experienced the fear of a near-drowning.
“Kids are having fun,” Olaudah Parker said. “Everybody was playing around.”
But things turned terrifying for Parker when he turned his back for just moments, and his 3-year-old daughter, Elia, slipped under the surface. She spent 104 seconds under water before Parker rescued her.
“And I have my daughter in my arms, and she’s lifeless,” Parker said. “Her lips are blue, and I am just in my mind thinking I lost my child.”
But he acted quickly and saved her life.
“Really and truly I had to get CPR done; otherwise, she wouldn’t stand a chance,” Parker explained.
Parker and Elia’s story demonstrates a bigger trend, explains Executive Director Paula Digrigoli with the NCH Healthcare System Safe and Healthy Children’s Coalition.
“Drowning rates have gone up 60% in Florida,” Digrigoli said. “Here in Collier County, we definitely have seen an increase in non-fatal drownings.”
That’s where drowning prevention company WAVE comes in. Mark Caron, the CEO and co-founder of Wave, says he hopes his device fills a gap.
“Drowning rates have not been declining,” Caron said. “It doesn’t make sense. Technology can fix the problem, and that’s what we are here to do.”
WAVE provided its system free of charge for testing at the aquatics center. Collier County will collect data on the system’s accuracy and dependability. If it likes what it sees, the county could purchase the system for other county pools.
Parker is someone who hopes this technology begins to have a positive impact.
“We were fortunate that our daughter lived with the situation, but there are many parents who aren’t as fortunate,” Parker said.