Park Visitor Health and Safety:
November 2, 2011
A Focus on Feeling-Good Guests
Amusement park officials want visitors not only to enjoy the rides and attractions but to feel safe as well. Many parks have Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) on staff as well as employees trained and certified as first responders who are there for sickness, injuries and heat-related issues.
Coney Island Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, welcomes more than 500,000 guests annually. The 77-acre park includes Sunlite Pool, which is the largest flat-surface pool in North America. The park maintains a Basic Life Saving, or BLS, first aid station on the premises and is less than one-half mile from a local hospital.
“We have policies and procedures for emergency and health situations,” said Mike Howard, vice president of Operations at Coney Island Park. “Along with the permanent first aid station, we also have a mobile station and four AED or mobile defibrillators. The lifeguard staff is first-responder trained and certified, and they know how to use oxygen and the defibrillators.”
As a former firefighter, Howard understands the importance of adhering to protocol in health emergencies. EMTs go over procedures with the guard staff, plus the procedures are reviewed often so if there are any questions about the procedures, they can be addressed.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Ind., welcomes more than a million guests per year. With so many visitors coming through their gate, the park maintains strict safety and first aid policies.
“We have full time EMTs and FT certified first responders,” said Craig Koenig, director of Safety. “We are always looking at our procedures and making changes if needed. Our most common ailment is due to heat, but we stress prevention and offer our guests free soft drinks, water and Gatorade. The park has an oasis set up where guests can get drinks and shelter.”
In the Splashin’ Safari waterpark, there is a cooling station with rocking chairs, ice and liquids. First Aid staff can monitor vital signs and make arrangements for transportation to hospitals if need be. First aid protocols are reviewed often and the park has direct lines to local emergency rooms. Holiday World also has a medical doctor who serves as the park’s medical director and oversees emergency protocol and training.
“We also have eight defibrillators throughout the park and staff that is certified to use them,” Koenig noted. “We do not dispense over-the-counter medicines, but they are available for purchase. We take our guest’s safety and health very seriously, and as our park continues to grow, so must our attention to first aid and safety, because the chances of illness and injury increase with the greater number of guests.”
Waldameer & Water World in Erie, Pa., offers 32 rides and 11 waterslides on 45 acres. The family-run park, which has been in existence for about 115 years, has a first aid station in the waterpark area and the amusement park area. At the waterpark station, an EMT and first aid responder are on staff, and the first aid staff is trained to use the portable defibrillator. In the amusement park area station, the office staff is trained in first aid and a there is a nurse present as well.
“Safety is our number-one issue,” said Steve Gorman, president and general manager. “We want our guests to feel comfortable knowing that we can handle situations from someone being sick on a ride to heat exhaustion, which is probably our biggest health issue with park guests.”
Waldameer also has a defibrillator on site and staff is trained and certified in its use as well as in CPR and first aid.
As Park Manager at Castles N’ Coasters Park in Phoenix, Ariz., Billy Anderson must oversee 230,000 guests per year. The park, which offers 18 attractions, provides basic first aid to guests in need.
“We keep band aids, ointments, sprays, eye wash, etc,” said Anderson. “We do dispense over-the-counter medications, if an adult asks for it or if a guardian or parent asks for it for a child.”
Castles N’ Coasters reviews its first aid and emergency policies monthly, and if any manager finds a fault or problem, it is discussed and resolved. The park’s supervisors, managers, first aid and customer service office employees are CPR and first aid certified by a third party company. The park does not keep defibrillators on site.
“We maintain a first aid office and if someone comes in with an injury or complaint and requests paramedics, we will call 911.”
As Security Manager at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Conn., Bill Leone knows the importance of being prepared. The oldest, continuously operating amusement park in North America, Lake Compounce is home to the largest waterpark in Connecticut. The park is one of eight theme parks and 11 waterparks operated by Newport Beach, Calif.-based Palace Entertainment.
“We have on-site EMTs who are subcontracted by the park from the local hospital,” Leone explained. “In the summer, we have three full-time EMTs and after the waterpark closes, we have two. It’s important that our guests know that their safety is a number-one priority with us.”
The most common health complaints from guests in the park are heat-related issues. Lake Compounce maintains a first aid station inside its waterpark with guards trained in first aid and the use of portable defibrillators.
“We do try and prevent heat-related problems. The park offers free water and soda to guests. We encourage them to drink frequently and stay hydrated.”
Although Lake Compounce’s staff does not hand out over-the-counter medication, the medicines are available for sale at the park gift shop. –