Mar 26, 2014

Qatar Pool & Spa Safety Conference Focuses on Education

Bill Kent represented U.S. expertise for three-day event

Qatar Pool & Spa Safety Conference Education Training

The first Qatar Pool & Spa Safety Conference (QPSSC) was held in late 2013, focusing on an exchange of best practices and expertise to reduce injury and deaths due primarily to drowning and improper use of chemicals. The QPSSC attracted more than 300 professionals and government representatives.

The event was sponsored by the Pool and Spa Safety Assn. (PSSA), Watermaster of Qatar, and Qatar Civil Defense, and was organized by Heights Exhibitions. A technical committee, formed by PSSA to bring experts together from around the globe, developed the educational tracks and seminars. The first day was devoted to studies and construction, and the second day to maintenance and safety measures. On the final day, attendees learned about international regulations and the proposals PSSA planned to present to Qatar Civil Defense for government adoption.

Bill Kent, president of Team Horner and member of the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF) board of directors, was invited to bring expertise from the U.S. by Pierre Boueri, founder of the conference and PSSA, CEO of Al Miha Holding Group and managing director of Watermaster Qatar. Kent joined a team of experts who contributed to the event: Peter Lang, chair of technical committee of EUSA (representing countries across Europe),  Allen J. Wilson, H&S Consultant (U.K.), and Dr. Najib Metni, PASSA vice president. The four also led presentations and discussions with government officials throughout the three-day event.

Kent was tapped because of his years of dedication to the health and safety of those who visit swimming pools and spas around the globe. “This conference is reflective of the worldwide concern for child safety and the need to focus on education and regulation,” he said. “It’s a great honor to have shared our knowledge and experience to help make pools safer for the people of Qatar." Kent delivered three seminars on public health issues, including desired outcomes. Educational content included materials offered by NSPF. The three topic areas were "Recreational Water Facilities: Discussing RWIs, Monitoring, Inspection, Circulation, Filtration, Sanitation"; "Water Treatment: Basic Water Chemistry, Sanitizers, Chlorine Chemistry and Responsibilities to the Bathers"; and "U.S. Regulations & Guidelines: An Overview of the Key Players in U.S. Regulations, the Value of the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC), How Automated Feed Systems and Controllers Can Provide Better Protection, and the Critical Need for Operator Training." About 70 people attended each of his seminars.

Qatar is a sovereign Arab emirate with an estimated population of 1,900,000 people. Drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children, next to road accidents, with 30 to 40 deaths each year; many occur in private residence quarters of expatriates in Qatar. The country's drowning statistics equal the number of childhood drownings in Australia each year.

Boueri has been in discussions with government officials, including Col. Ibrahim Abdul Rahman Al Muftah, head of the Prevention Department of Civil Defense, to promote safety, professionalism and standards. In fact, Boueri said, “chlorine was thrown in the water at a school pool, by hand, next to the children, causing a serious health problem.” These incidents, along with the high rate of drowning, prompted him to organize the PASSA and the three-day QPSSA conference.

Following the conference, results of the education and work on development of a pool and spa safety standard for Qatar were reported to Qatar Civil Defense. The committee presented recommendations and resolutions with a hope for adoption in the near future.