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If there’s one area of the Australian aquatic industry that probably doesn’t get enough air time, it’s our single operator pools. Lost interest already?

Typically, small rural and remote towns with just a 25m pool and a toddlers pool, a plantroom with adjoining change rooms, an entry point… with a kiosk if you’re lucky. The swimming club might have a shed.

While they mightn’t account for many of the 113 million visitations to Australian centres annually, their role in our communities is invaluable. Running a small pool sounds easy enough… except, the reality’s a bit different.

In large centres staff have designated roles and responsibilities. As the operator of a small centre you’re all of those, and then some; manager, lifeguard, customer service person, cleaner, grounds keeper, cashier, chlorine pump repair guy, child care worker, social worker, bouncer and the list goes on.

In metro areas, there are whole service industries built around taking care of every plantroom, water chemistry or equipment problem. In rural settings, you’re probably on your own. Maybe the storeman at the depot helps out from time to time.

And you learn some stuff. After pulling the cleaner apart for the umpteenth time you get pretty good at it. Often you already know what’s wrong with the bloody thing and you have an ‘almost the same’ part in a post bag the manufacturer sent you. If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.

These are resilient, reliable and resourceful people. Some days they chip away at some frustratingly hopeless task that threatens to bring the whole show to a halt, growling through gritted teeth; the pool will open today!

With few resources and a budget that’s usually blown by mid-November they still manage to plan for most things.

But there’s one problem they when they speak I can see the concern, almost fear, in their eyes; ‘what do I do if there’s a major incident. Worse… what if I’m on my own?’

Spare a thought for single responders. Most of us prepare to work in our flight or fight mode knowing that we do so in a team environment with that reassuring thought in the back our heads that the cavalry’s on the way.

Not these guys. Torn between doing lifesaving cpr, going for the phone, or going for the AED at the school down the road. It’s a horrible moment.

Saving a person while trying to stay clear headed enough to instruct bystanders to bring equipment and clearing the pool. Bystanders are not prepared for these events. That’s if there are any. What if the only swimmer at the centre has a cardiac arrest? Every tried to do cpr, deploy oxygen and whip out the AED on your own? You’d better be a Ninja.

Of course, their main concern is losing a life. In a small town you know each swimmer and their family personally. They can’t stand the thought of not being able to save someone. Understandably, their next concern is how will I fair in any post incident investigation? What was I supposed to do?

There’s probably some more work we can do in this area. These guys could do with some help. Aside from turning them into 2 operator pools, if you’ve got a practical idea, get the ball rolling by leave it below in the comments section below.

This is an honesty system, right?… so if you’re a Robot, don’t tick the box.