What Does BZ Mean?

Bravo Zulu when conveyed by flaghoist, morse code, or voice comms at the end of a mission means Well Done. It was introduced between allied forces in World War II.

This blog is a BZ to you.





Water Safety Ireland's Data-Driven Approach With D4H

Robin was recently joined by David Ruch, Data Officer at Water Safety Ireland to discuss the critical role of data in water safety. Water Safety Ireland is a vital government organization dedicated to preventing water-related injuries and drownings in Ireland. During this discussion, we learned how Water Safety Ireland utilizes D4H to log and analyze water-based incidents, how this data aids in understanding risk factors and patterns in water-related incidents, as well as how it shapes strategies for prevention, response, and recovery.

Water Safety Ireland

Water Safety Ireland headquarters are based in one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, County Galway in Ireland. Galway Bay is renowned for its coastal setting in Ireland, making it a favored destination for water activities, however, it also experiences a notable number of water incidents each year. The Water Safety HQ is located alongside the River Corrib, making it a perfect location for their team to be. It is a fast-flowing river, located in the center of the busy city, filled with university student accommodation and bustling nightlife. In 2021, the River Corrib, got two thermal-image cameras set up for drownings, to monitor people's movements and assist in preventing drownings. The project to increase water safety in the busy city of Galway is continuing to expand, with the increase in barriers, and safer walkways, with the goal being 'making the area accessible but safe'.

Water Safety Ireland Logo

Water Safety Ireland is the statutory body in Ireland that is in the position with the backing of the government to prevent drownings across Ireland. WSI works on this with three main activities, the first being education, the second is promotion and the third is partnerships. Data is crucial in allowing WSI to achieve these three approaches to water safety.

Water Safety Ireland Safety campaign

WSI is a registered charity, and its success relies on the involvement of dedicated volunteers, boasting an active volunteer base of approximately 3000 individuals. The volunteers are dispersed throughout Ireland, providing support for diverse bodies of water, spanning from coastal towns to inland regions boasting rivers and lakes, as well as farmlands reliant on water sources. Water Safety Ireland hopes to grow their volunteer numbers over the next couple of years, while they work on new initiatives. The primary objective of WSI is to mitigate drowning incidents, they aim to promote and educate the public on water safety, and how to engage with water safely.

Water Safety Ireland safe swimming

Water Safety Ireland operates three primary programs within the education sector. The Hold Hands initiative focuses on early childhood education, aiming to instill water safety practices from a young age. PAWS (Primary Aquatics Water Safety) targets school-aged children, providing comprehensive water safety education and certification. In 2023 alone, WSI distributed 10,000 water safety certificates to school children across Ireland through the PAWS program. Additionally, the Get Wise/Get Wiser program is tailored for teenagers and has been made mandatory in Irish schools, ensuring adolescents receive essential water safety education.

Water Safety Ireland additionally has Water Safety Area Committees (WSAC), run by volunteers who are tasked with engaging with the community, through schools and community centers providing additional education and training for water safety.

D4H and Water Safety Ireland

Water Safety Ireland integrated D4H into its operations over a decade ago, initially subscribing in 2011 with the primary objective of tracking drowning statistics and establishing a national database for such incidents.

Over time, the organization has expanded its utilization of D4H working with the community rescue boats, and creating team manager accounts. This evolution has enabled Water Safety Ireland to enhance and streamline its operations, optimizing the effectiveness of its teams and their initiatives.

Water Safety Ireland Lifeguard

Compiling drowning statistics is a significant undertaking for WSI in Ireland, there is a central statistics office, where the data is stored. The issue WSI faces with that is it doesn't go into the level of detail needed for WSI to make decisions, for it will record a drowning but it will not detail when the drowning occurred, it does not report on the victim's gender, or age bracket. This detail of information is critically important for WSI, for intervention in education programs varies depending on the age of the audience. WSI has to tailor their programs per the age range they are working with. WSI's Data Officer, David Ruch, employs D4H to meticulously record extensive data for drowning statistics.

"What D4H has let us do is zoom in on the different counties across Ireland, this allows us to map the drownings around our programs of education, and measure the success of the education programs, and spot areas that have yet to be explored. D4H is really effective"
— David Ruch Data Officer Water Safety Ireland

Another feature on D4H that Water Safety utilizes is for logging the contributing factors for their drowning incident records. Their details records log information for the drowning incident such as if it was during a water-based activity, was the person on a boat, swimming, driving a vehicle, or walking along a pathway, all of these details logged in D4H help WSI to measure the most common contributing factors in water based incidents, therefore allowing them to develop safety interventions.

"We really rely quite heavily on D4H to allow us to collate and analyze those factors to help us plan what safety measures we are going to do for the statutory body of Ireland."
— David Ruch Data Officer Water Safety Ireland

The CRBI and Water Safety Ireland

Community Rescue Boats Ireland (CRBI) is a volunteer group that works in collaboration with the Irish Coast Guard and they are part of the Irish Water Safety committees. The CRBI uses D4H in conjunction with Water Safety Ireland, their teams each have their own D4H account, and they use D4H to log all of their incidents. The community rescue boats respond when there is a report or distress signal from domestic vessels, and most often out at sea and where lifeguards are not patrolling. Each CRBI station has its own D4H account with its data, with Water Safety Ireland being the parent organization, with access to all of the data combined.

Community Rescue Boats Ireland

What is critical for the Community Rescue Boats of Ireland within D4H is how they have set it up using Incident Reporting Availability Tracker to know who is on call and who is unavailable so that the incident notifications go to those who are on duty, D4H also allows them to know where those individuals are and they can prioritize who is notified by their distance to the incident.

"The system they have in place with D4H allows them to respond to an incident in a very seamless and immediate fashion, which really greatly increases their ability to respond to those emergency situations."
— David Ruch Data Officer Water Safety Ireland

With D4H Incident Reporting the CRBI can review their previous incidents, what actions they took, what worked well, and areas for improvement, and they use this information to schedule appropriate training.

"D4H really helps the team with their continuous 24/7 service to the community, the more units we can get on board with D4H the better. The volunteers are giving up their time to do these critical roles, and D4H is really effective in making them more efficient."
— David Ruch Data Officer Water Safety Ireland

The community rescue boats have annual audits and inspections to ensure that they are operationally ready to serve the country of Ireland. The help with these audits the CRBI uses D4H training logs, to log their minimum training development requirements. Their equipment also goes through inspections consistently and all of that information gets stored in D4H equipment management.

"D4H is a really effective tool for them to manage all of those inspection and auditory requirements."
David Ruch Data Officer Water Safety Ireland

Watch the full interview on Youtube: Watch Now

Listen to the full interview on the D4H Podcast on Spotify


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