Don’t Look at Me!

Industry expert Allen F. Weitzel spent 45 seasons in the recreation field and was most recently safety and training manager at a California amusement park.

Industry expert Allen F. Weitzel spent 45 seasons in the recreation field and was most recently safety and training manager at a California amusement park.

By Allen F. Weitzel


Throwing caution to the wind, I might ruffle a few feathers, this time around.  We are having a severe drought here in California.  Even though our family has always been careful with water, we have significantly cut our water usage, once again.  Yep, I love those 30-second cold showers.   Here, though, is my issue.  I pay my utility purveyors and government officials to provide the resources that they have committed to delivering to my home and community.  True, we cannot fend off natural disasters, but someone should have seen this one coming and made long and short-term water and resource management plans, and well as forecasting state growth patterns.  However, it seems that California’s leaders prefer to come up with excuses and blame others.


Don’t Look At Me!


Throughout my amusement industry career, I have enjoyed working for some darn good bosses.  They all expected one thing of me, regardless of the obstacles or the seriousness of the challenge.  I do not want to cover all the details of why California is in the weather-driven pickle barrel, but this issue points to a standard management function: know your job; do your job!


Top of The Heap


You are the leader, the know-it-all executive, the unwavering problem solver, and the go-to guy or gal.  You were either hired or promoted up the chain of command from that new-hire ride operator position because you showed skill, a willingness to learn and a get-it-done reputation.  As a leader, you would never pass the buck and have other departments or your employees solve problems on their own and bail you out, unlike our California utility leaders.  California’s solution to the drought continues to be the reliance on homeowners, businesses and communities to carry the burden.


What We Learned


Amusement industry professionals learned the hard way as to why they cannot merely shift serious problems onto employees or even guests.  It comes back to important tasks such as creating emergency action plans well in advance for the safety and well-being of guests and employees should the unthinkable crisis emerge.  The amusement industry knows that they must have action plans and resources in place to guard against and react to tidal waves at beach parks or tornados in the central and mid-west states.  Well run amusement facilities know how to address issues such as broken water mains or downed power lines that feed their facility.  They also know what to do if fires erupt near their operation.  Park managers understand they must know how to predict, understand, plan for and implement immediate action plans when a crisis threatens their employees, guests and facility.  They cannot make mistakes and merely pass along the problem solving to employees.  Okay, so once every 15 years, you make a boo-boo and you need your staff to bail you out, but that should be rare.  If management cannot handle the tough aspects of the job, they must either seek outside expertise or devote the time and energy to learn to on their own.  If they cannot, they may need to step down.




At our park, we created a safety action plan that covered every crazy or almost unthinkable scenario, and it outlined who would do what and when.  It even covered what to do if other support groups failed to do their jobs, such as civil unrest enveloping our local community and threatening our facility.


It would have been nice if years ago California leaders borrowed knowledge from the amusement industry on how to plan in advance for emergencies without passing the buck.  Do the Golden State leaders need to read their own website and realize that the state produces nearly half of the United States-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables?  Do they not realize that water, and plenty of it, is needed to maintain that status quo?  Amusement facilities en-mass would have to close their doors if they faced such a stark fact and then continued to overlook it or pass the buck trying to solve it.


The Message


I am proud to be a member of the amusement industry brotherhood.  People who know and understand the responsibilities of their jobs know they cannot shy away from the tough work and decisions involved in effective problem solving.   California leaders must learn from the professionals.  Current or future problems, be it in amusement parks or governmental management, should not be ignored until they become critical.  Those in charge cannot simply pass problems along for others to resolve, while keeping their jobs.

You May Also Like…