National Aquatic Industry Safety Awards
Excellence in Incident Management
Narrabri Aquatic Centre
Nominated By:
Contact Details

Narrabri is situated 520 kilometres north west of Sydney. The local government area has a population of around 13,000 people who enjoy modern cafés, restaurants and a state-of-the-art theatre complex that brings movies and live performances to the community.
The area has diversified from its traditional agricultural base of grain, cotton, wool, beef and prime lamb production to coal mining and gas extraction & exploration.
The topography of the area varies from fertile flood plains of the Namoi River through to rugged mountain ranges of Mount Kaputar National Park.


Narrabri Shire Council operates 3 public swimming facilities across the local government area at Boggabri, Narrabri and Wee Waa.
In 2013 a redevelopment of the Narrabri Swimming Pool saw the inclusion of a new entrance, cafe, year round 25 lap and leisure pool, an outdoor kids splash park and multi-function room.
Since that time the organisation has focused on building a team of capable individuals with unique skill sets, to operate the facility.

Future Plans

Narrabri Shire Council has allocated funding for the upgrading of its other facilities in the coming years.
The staff are looking to improve services to their communities through new programs and the expansion of existing programs.
The organisation is acutely aware of the skills shortage in the aquatic and recreation industry and are working on strategies to address this around locally.

What it means

This team has, in isolation, using specialised skill sets, team work and a commitment have achieved what is probably an industry first for incident management.
Their determination to meet their own objectives has been outstanding and formal industry recognition would help them and others to realise that even small teams in small facilities can be at the cutting edge of innovation and improvement.
Frontline lifeguards are a virtually untapped source of improvement who need encouraging and applauding.

Criteria 1

Describe how the nominee has provided a contribution to Incident Management or managing an incident

Preventative measures mean spinal injuries in aquatic facilities are rare. None the less the community expectation of lifeguard competency in this area is high.
Spinal immobilisation techniques are taught using a three or four person lifeguard team. Public facilities in rural communities are often required to operate with as few as one or two staff. This creates unique challenges when it comes to the management of such incidents.
The staff at the Narrabri Aquatic Centre set themselves the ambitious target of developing a spinal incident response that could be performed with only 2 people and completed in 2 minutes.

Criteria 2

Describe (and provide evidence) of improvements and/or achievements made in Incident Management over the past 12-18 months

The team which included the centre manager, the aquatics supervisor and lifeguards from safety and engineering backgrounds spent weeks training, discussing, redesigning and refining the standard industry process.
The outcome had to be one which maintained an open airway, effectively immobilised the casualty’s spine and the efficient removal of the person from the pool.

Criteria 3

Describe how the nominee has shown commitment to aquatic safety in Incident Management

After eight weeks the Narrabri team were able to develop a 2 person response that has the casualty out of the water in 2 minutes and this has now been rolled out to the entire lifeguard team, whilst meeting their objectives of an open airway, effectively immobilised and the efficient removal from the pool.

Criteria 4

Describe what barriers have been encountered by the nominee in Incident Management and how have they been overcome

The barriers were limited lifeguards, time critical and a lack of industry standard.
The team found they need to develop a modified version of the extended arm roll over and alter the set-up of the backboard to reduce the number of steps and the number of lifeguards required.
Floatation was added and then later reduced on the backboard to ensure it floated high enough and the final process uses a mix of fixed and portable floatation.
This has enabled them to develop a process that is effective and efficient for facilities with few lifeguards.

View Attachments