Empowering Communities To Take Action With Water Safety Legislation

Episode 8 August 17, 2023 00:45:39
Empowering Communities To Take Action With Water Safety Legislation
The Water Safety Podcast
Empowering Communities To Take Action With Water Safety Legislation

Aug 17 2023 | 00:45:39

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Show Notes

Adam Katchmarchi, Alan Korn, and Michael Haggard discuss how Michael went from litigator to Water Safety Champion and advocate, and the ways people can be proactive in influencing water safety legislation.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:01 N D P A presents the Water Safety Champion Podcast. Speaker 2 00:00:10 All right, welcome back to the N D P A Water Safety Champion podcast. It's Adam Kemarie, the executive director of N D P A. Joined today with one of my special guest co-hosts, Alan Corn. Alan, how are you doing today, sir? Speaker 3 00:00:23 Good. Always a a pleasure to work with you, Adam. I'm glad to, to do this kind of new for me. Speaker 2 00:00:29 Absolutely. Well, I know you and Alyssa have been hosting your, uh, water safety odd couple chats for quite some time, and I am, you know, I just find it hilarious that, uh, the Water Safety AG Couple has become the guest co-host on the N D P A Water Safety Champion podcast. So, uh, always happy to have one half of the odd couple with me, and, uh, eventually I'm gonna have to do a podcast where I get the whole water safety odd couple on a, uh, on a zoom. Sure. Um, well, really excited about today's guest. Uh, today's guest is well known in a lot of the water safety circles, both locally in Florida and in the United States. Um, he has been an advisor, past board member of the N D P A and, uh, still supports our work. Uh, happy to invite Mike Haggard onto the podcast. How are you doing today, Mike? Speaker 4 00:01:14 I'm good, Adam. Good to see both of you guys. Speaker 2 00:01:17 Awesome. Well, glad to have you and Mike. Let's get right into the discussion. Um, as our listeners know, the Water Safety Champions Podcast is about learning more about our water safety champions that are out there doing good work, uh, both locally at the state level and nationally for water safety. And I think you fit all three of those. Um, so, uh, Mike, let's start out by learning a little bit about your water story. How did you get involved in this space? Speaker 4 00:01:41 Sure. Well, you know, I'm, I'm a South Florida guy, uh, born and raised in South Florida. You know, grew up fishing, swimming, I, I couldn't be in enough water, uh, you know, loved whitewater rafting. I mean, anything I could do to be around that. I've gotta go down to keys a lot, which is just south of Miami and was just down there last week with my kids. And, you know, when you're from South Florida, it's, it's part of your d n a, you know, and, and, uh, you know, I never thought of it more than that until I'll be, you know, was a trial lawyer and handling different cases. And unfortunately, in the late nineties, um, I was continually approached by families who had had a child that suffered either a drowning or an ear drowning. And, uh, and so I continually see the same patterns. Speaker 4 00:02:27 You know, I would see apartment complexes that had something wrong with their fence, not necessarily just a broken pool gate, but fences that had, uh, you know, pieces missing that a kid could get through. Um, and then, and then, you know, tried a number of those cases. And in fact, you know, unfortunately, a young boy by the name of Lorenzo Peterson was 14 years old and an apartment pool in North Miami. Um, the drain cover was missing. And he and his friend Tony Boudreaux, uh, were diving for pennies. And Lorenzo put his hand in the drain, and his right arm got stuck. And Tony Boudreau trying to save his friend, yelled out to all the neighbors. Uh, two Mayflower movers, giant men, jumped in the pool, couldn't pull him free. The police came, a police officer actually cut up a hose and tried to give him oxygen, um, until they finally broke into the pump room and turned off the pump. And Lorenzo was terribly, terribly brain damaged. And, and at that point in time, I, I had no idea about suction entrapment. I, I had you start to research and you find out, well, Barbara Walters had talked about suction entrapment on 20, 20, 10 years before, and John Edwards had gotten a verdict involving suction entrapment of $26 million in Raleigh, North Carolina. And, but the Speaker 3 00:03:52 Former senator, right. The former senator, the former Speaker 4 00:03:54 Senator and Vice Speaker 3 00:03:55 And Vice presidential candidate. Speaker 4 00:03:57 Yep. Absolutely. And so you learn about all these tragedies, and you're sitting there as a trial lawyer saying, this can't be, I mean, this is just, you know, this is taking away our children. This is an incredibly dangerous risk. And ended up trying that case and another case that year involving a drowning of a young girl through a pool gate, uh, near drowning. She was terribly brain image and, and got two very significant awards that really kinda launched me into, I can't keep doing this from the litigation side. I, I can, I can win the cases, I can be very successful, but we gotta stop this there, there's gotta be a way to stop this. And then that kinda led me to the dual journey of not only being a trial lawyer, fighting for these families in courtroom, but just as important, um, you know, being an advocate, getting out there with the N D P A with other efforts to, uh, not only pass legislation, but pass codes that make sense so we can curb this terrible problem. Speaker 2 00:04:57 So, uh, Mike, I'm gonna ask you a question. I know there's a lot to unpack there, and I want to get into, uh, talking a little bit more about Entrapments and both your work and Alan's work to making sure those, those types of incidents have, you know, substantially been reduced nowadays. Um, but I'm gonna ask you a question. What, what made you wanna go to law school and be an attorney? Speaker 4 00:05:16 Yeah. Well, you know, it's interesting. You know, I, um, my dad, uh, was a trial lawyer, fantastic trial lawyer, uh, down here in South Florida. So I grew up around the kitchen table, you know, hearing the stories of those clients, um, and, and hearing the way my, my dad had a famous football helmet case back in the day where Rydale helmet was, uh, designed, um, defectively, and a young man was paralyzed in a high school football game. And, uh, two firms had turned it down. My dad tried the case. Don Shula, the longtime Dolphins winning his coach in N F L history was the expert against my dad in Miami-Dade County in the 1970s. And my dad still won the case and, and really made such a difference for that young man, and eventually for the safety of helmet. So, I, I always, I always grew up around it. It was, it was a calling, it was, you know, you could change society and, um, you know, but it was interesting and, and law. And in college I was doing a bunch of different things, didn't know if I wanted to do it, and at the end of the day, didn't really have any other opportunities. And I, I did like to speak and try to influence people, whether it be, you know, at a bar or maybe in a courtroom. So, uh, so that's how I ended up at the University of Miami Law School. Speaker 3 00:06:30 You know, uh, Mike, you, you, you make, you make the case for helping an individual client who's been aggrieved, uh, you mostly because of negligence, I'm sure, on somebody's part. But it strikes me in following your career and getting to know you over the years that you've kind of expanded that scope a little bit. And, uh, these cases have served you in your public policy role also. Um, is that an overstatement? How do you do that? Uh, has it been successful? Uh, these cases can help the families, obviously, but the community at large from public policy? Speaker 4 00:07:09 Yeah. You know, I, I really think that's what the tort system is all about. What the civil justice system is all about is, you know, number one, you have an obligation to your individual client and you to get to get them justice. You know, try to make them whole. But at the same time, I mean, and you guys know this better than anybody, you know, just, you know, with the, the specific issue of drowning, anytime I sit across from this conference room table with a family that has lost a child, uh, it's the worst thing anyone could possibly imagine. And then the only thing the family really wants is this never to happen to someone again. And so, to me, that's the role of the civil trial lawyer. How can I get this family justice, but take their real wish, you know, to its conclusion of making the world safer so that it doesn't happen to someone else. Speaker 4 00:07:59 And maybe we can eliminate the problem altogether, and that, that really, we can look to many examples. I mean, the exploding pinto in the 1970s, you know, that was fixed by a case. You know, we look at why do you and I, and all of us, we go to a hotel, have a hotel key that doesn't have a room number on it anymore. Well, that's because a woman was sexually assaulted in the Indianapolis Hotel in the early eighties. So there's things that the civil justice system brings about. And I think, you know, when we look at entrapment and we look at the history of the entrapment cases, and obviously, you know, Alan, I'm sure you talk about the Baker case, you know, that brought all that to its fruition to pass, you know, the V G B Act, which, if you look at a, we could look at all defective products in the world, that is one of the greatest examples in my view, of how the civil justice system, you know, got brought such bear to then to the halls of Congress to pass something that really, really has worked Speaker 2 00:09:01 Well. And I think that's an important piece with the, that I always point to. I mean, we did a webinar just recently on, uh, the updates and drowning data, and we had some questions on entrapment data. And, you know, it's really unfortunate right now to see our drowning numbers in the United States going the opposite direction, uh, since the pandemic that we've been, you know, going the past 20 years. But when we look at entrapment specifically, you know, I always hear the critics of regulation and legislation, uh, you know, saying there's too much regulation, regulation doesn't work. I think the V G B is a perfect example of showing how regulation, sensible regulation can work. I mean, there's been a substantial drop. I mean, there's been no fatalities in public pools reported since the passage of V G B substantial reduction in residential pool incidents. Um, you know, still have some injuries happening that you know out there. Um, but I, I always point to this as such a, a great example of how when advocacy and data and, you know, really looking at a problem can, can really come together, uh, to make society better and safer. Speaker 4 00:10:07 I, I couldn't agree more. I mean, and, and, and you all know my story. I mean, I, after the Peterson verdict where, you know, the same defendant, you know, gets, gets a hundred million dollar verdict against him, you would think after John Edwards verdict, our verdict, they would change things. And I would go to c p s, uh, C P S C meetings, testifying, showing PowerPoints. I mean, this is many, many years ago. What are we doing? We know how to fix this. And then when it, when it happened to Grammy, you know, we have to admit, you know, that was a, because of the politics involved, because of who Secretary Baker was, we were able to, to prevent these for the large part. And I could tell you, I've represented 10 folks in the same situation, deaths, terrible injuries. And now we've had one you all met our clients, um, in Colorado Springs where it was a hair entrapment, which thank God she was above water, and she's doing really good. I mean, that is improvement because we don't know about the ones who almost got stuck with their arm. We don't know the ones who maybe would've been stuck at a jacuzzi. We know we've saved hundreds of lives with that bill. And I think in the drowning space, there are a couple of other areas that if we took that model, we could substantially bring these numbers down. Speaker 2 00:11:26 Absolutely. Speaker 3 00:11:26 Is there something we can do, Mike, in, in your opinion and experience do for traditional forms of drowning what the V G B did for entrapment? Um, are there solutions out there in your opinion? Speaker 4 00:11:41 Absolutely. I mean, I, I, I think that, you know, we can deal with public pools and we can deal with residential pools and deal with the safeguards in place that we know work. I mean, we know that fencing works. We know that proper fencing works with self-closing and self latching gates work. And we know the same thing works at home with a combination with pool alarms. But we have so many loopholes, and we have so many problems where I could tell you I have continual apartment, um, gate drowning deaths and near injuries where the pump has the V G P tag and permit on it, where the inspections have, the VG B checked off, it was VG B was checked out. They're checking for dual drains, they're checking for anti vortex covers and svds. But what they're not doing is, is checking the gates and making sure that the gates work. Speaker 4 00:12:36 And, you know, you simply go into an apartment complex as a code inspector, and you shut it down. The residents are gonna complain. Everybody's gonna know, why can't we have this gate? Well, we don't have the right gates. We, the fence has problems with it, whatever it might be. Um, and, and, and for the life of me, I don't understand why the insurance industry isn't behind that. It would save them, uh, millions and millions of dollars. Uh, they could give reduction premiums. Um, and the same goes for residential. You know, I mean, they're, we continue to see res and it's always about a gate. It's always about a door alarm. It rarely is the, where the, the child was expected to be near water. That does happen. And that comes back to supervision. But I think we, we know what these, these safeguards are the layers of protection, and it, they need to be regulated, like Adam said, because we'll have great results, Speaker 3 00:13:28 Including the most recent drowning in Florida in your backyard, uh, the, the football player who lost a child. I think that child wandered out the back of the house. Speaker 4 00:13:38 Um, abso absolutely what you see continuing in Florida is someone gets their permit, they have a pool fence or alarms, and then they disable 'em. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, and, you know, and that just cannot be allowed. And not only that, we still have, uh, pools in Florida and, and certainly around the country where you're grandfathered in because it's not a new pool. And, and so we proposed legislation in Florida saying, if there's a sale, just put in the cost of a fence or the alarms, just like we have all these taxes that the three of us have no idea what those taxes mean. I mean, the bait, you know, these stamps, whatever, the adv stamps in your closing, everybody signs are closing. They don't know what's in there. If you're talking about a thousand dollars in the closing of a house to be split by everybody to bring the pool up to code to save lives, who's against that? Speaker 3 00:14:32 Right. Speaker 2 00:14:33 I, I wanna ask you, and, and Alan, feel free to chime into this one as well, because I often get this, you know, N D P A, you know, our approach right now. 'cause Mike, you know, you mentioned, uh, most drownings, especially if toddlers are happening during non swim times. And that is one of three myths. We're trying to work really hard both in the media and in the general discourse this summer to really clarify to people, you know, most people think of water safety as a swim time activity. But, you know, just take your state, the preponderance of backyard pools, canals, rivers, um, you know, oceans, lakes, uh, everything that surrounds homes. Um, we're trying to get the correct information out to parents so they can make proper safety decisions for their parents. And one of the reasons Ndpa is an alliance is we try to bring all, you know, different sectors that touch that pool together to deliver that same message. Speaker 2 00:15:25 So hopefully it's hitting parents multiple times, not just once to be aware of those situations. But I've heard from, you know, whether it be a Airbnb host or a pool service professional or a builder, that they are sometimes hesitant to be upfront with water safety information because they're fearful. Their liability increases, that if something would happen that, you know, they're going to be, um, you know, named in a lawsuit. And, you know, in my experience, you know, look, you know, Alan taught me this years ago. I think when he first joined N D P A as our general counsel, I would call him and he would say to me, you know, Adam, a anyone can sue you for any reason. Whether the case has merit is a different story. So, you know, not to say that someone could not sue anyone that touched that pool if there was a tragic incident. But I think the whole argument of, you know, you're facing increased liability if you approach these subjects with your clients or your customers, I don't put a lot of weight into that. I think it's actually the opposite in my mind. But, you know, I'm gonna let the two attorneys on the podcast kind of weigh into that. Speaker 4 00:16:31 Yeah. I mean, I, I, I've always said, Sumit, they couldn't agree with you more. I mean, you meet problems and you meet risk head on. And, and if you have a good plan, I mean, you know what? We can talk about emergency management plan at a hotel. You know, you've gone over, Hey, we've got this, uh, this pool. You know, what is our protocol if, if a child is missing, you know, let's look at our risks of our pool and let's address them. Because if you don't put it, you know, putting your head in the sand and, and doing the ostrich defense doesn't help you in front of a jury or anyone else. But when you have a real plan, and maybe it was just something that's gonna happen, you can defend yourself better. But the goal in everything, to me, and I, I try to talk to big business about this all the time, is the goal is so you never have the incident. Speaker 4 00:17:14 Don't worry about litigation. If you never have the incident. I'm never involved. And I'm, I'm fine with that as Alan and I joke, I wanna put myself out of business. I have handled way too many drowning cases. I hope I never have to handle one again. And, and, you know, but, but to do that, hotels, apartments, all all aquatic facilities gotta address risk with water. I mean, we started off this podcast. I mean, I love water. I mean, more than life itself. I mean, I think it, it is the most rejuvenating, incredible activity. All the reasons we all love it, but it has risks. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, um, and to have protocols to have a program, Airbnb, which we could talk about for a whole podcast, is a whole nother issue and a dangerous issue. Um, and they've gotta face it head on. Speaker 3 00:18:02 Yeah. Is it, it's as if, uh, maybe I'm overstating it. It's as if the motivation to protect lives only gets you part of the way there. The other factor in the calculus is, oh yeah. And by the way, there is an economic risk here also. And maybe that's the, an additional motivation for apartment complexes, for summer camps for, I mean, a hundred million dollar verdict is gonna make everybody sit up and pay attention. Speaker 4 00:18:42 Yeah. And, and, you know, you, you, whatever motivates you. I mean, we want, we wanna get to the ends, right? I mean, we wanna make everything safe. But going through that analysis, I mean, you know, you don't wanna be the me, you know, whatever example we could use the big resort hotel that has three drownings. I mean, nobody wants to go there. There's something wrong with it. And, and so, you know, it's so important to have aquatic professionals to look through a resort fool and say, look, okay, we make the choice or not to have lifeguards or water watchers, but we do have a fountain that affects the turbidity and the clarity of the water. Are we gonna think about, what if the kid swimming under there and we don't know, what are we gonna do? What are we gonna do about these risks? And educate everyone? Speaker 4 00:19:25 We also know there's a lot of turnover. So you have to have a plan when you have new employees. I mean, we've had, we've had cases where the parent is trapped under the waterfall and no one can see 'em, and there's no plan. And then consider that risk. And that's just, that's absolutely unacceptable. Um, Airbnbs, I mean, you are talking about an industry that, as much as I may talk about a Marriott or a Hilton hotel for the life of me, why Marriott and Hilton and others aren't saying, why aren't these folks regulated like us? Meaning having, uh, their pools enclosed, having regulations that that hotels have and apartment complexes have, but Airbnb doesn't, and you know, Speaker 3 00:20:14 As a corporate policy, Mike, as a corporate policy or public policy, or both maybe. Speaker 4 00:20:20 Well, I, I think everything starts with public policy. I mean, I, I, why, why aren't those treated the minute they're in Airbnb? Why is that still a private pool? Right. You know, I mean, it's not, it's a commercial entity. It's not for tax purposes. I mean, if, if you and I are have in an Airbnb, or we're running out for six months, we get taxed on that income. I mean, that's a, that's a different now classification. And the problem is Airbnb just says, Hey, that's up, up to whoever owns that house. Right? And, and so if they have a full fence that they put in their garage, 'cause it's not aesthetically nice, or they, they took the batteries outta the alarm. You know, my view not only is the owner of the house responsible, but Airbnb is, Airbnb's understands drowning risk. And they should have, back to your point, Alan, they should have corporate, corporate responsibility and corporate procedures there. And if they have pools and they're running in the families, then they should have fencing around the pools, just like an apartment complex has to have. And just like a hotel has to have. Speaker 2 00:21:21 Yeah. Speaker 3 00:21:22 One, one other thing, uh, Adam, and then I'll, I'll defer to you. Sure. Marriott, it's got franchise relationships. And they say in order to have the Marriott name, uh, on you can't have smoking, uh, in, in the building. I mean, there's all kinds of conditions. What some hotels may not have adult movies offered in their hotels. 'cause that's a quality and a character of their franchise agreement. You're making the case that Airbnb may need to step up to protect its name, to have its corporate policies flow down to the individual. Uh, I don't even know if they consider 'em customer, but client of theirs, uh, offering to the public. Speaker 4 00:22:04 No question about it. And I, and I could tell you Florida, I mean, I mean, a, a tremendous amount of drownings we see are in the central Florida area where people getting Airbnbs because of the hotel costs around the parks, and you have drownings. These folks are not used to water. They're, they may get there late on a Thursday night, they're so excited for the park the next morning and before the morning starts, a child gets through the sliding glass door that didn't have an alarm, gets in the pool, and you have a drowning death. I mean, it happens countless times. And so therefore, Airbnb, it's very simple. You've gotta keep your pool up to code. You need to have either fencing around the pool or working alarms on the door. I mean, it's not that hard. And if you don't, you can't be part of our program. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right. If you want be you go buy the buy, buy the 1500 fence, you'll make it back the first weekend. Speaker 3 00:22:52 Yes. Right. Speaker 2 00:22:54 Well, I, I will say, I mean, this is something that N D P A is, is, you know, it may not be publicly pronounced that we are involved in this work, but we are actually in discussions with a lot of hospitality companies. Um, you know, I don't want to get, don't want to get into specific names, but you know, Mike, we're having these conversations specifically to, you know, it, this is not something you should be reactive to. This is something you need to be proactive. Because if you are proactive, take a V R B O or Airbnb, or even Marriott or Hilton, it not only reduces your liability, it helps keep your, you know, your customers and clients safe. It's a good PR move. There's really not a lot of negatives here, but it's, if it, you know, when we've even kind of taken the approach of like, look, this is an issue and we are gonna work to solve it with or without you. And, you know, it's better for you as a company and better for us as an industry to work together to save lives. Um, you know, because, and, and Speaker 3 00:23:49 Adam, as Mike said, that has evidentiary value that, uh, Mike, you said earlier, there's, having a plan can help. It may not be exculpatory, but it certainly helps to make your case that you did everything you could to prevent the injury. Speaker 4 00:24:07 A a hundred percent. I mean, if, if Airbnb enacted a policy tomorrow, we require any homeowner to have pool fence put around their, uh, you know, alarms. They did some type of inspection process, meaning, and, and they have millions and millions of units. I understand that. But a homeowner has to take pictures, video, show the fence, show the show the battery's working. Okay, you're good to go. If then the homeowner alters it well, Airbnb's gonna say, well, that's on them. And what can we do? You know, but there's ways to do this because, you know, you just wish they could look at it through, you know, our convention's eyes look through, through those family's eyes and understand how important the little things can change. And like you guys said, it's a win-win. I mean, you have great safety procedures, then you can start at, you know, talking about local, this is how safe we are. We recommend this, we recommend this, we require this. And that's gonna help them in their market share against, you know, their competitors. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:25:06 I, Mike, I wanna ask you, 'cause I, I know oftentimes we bring you to our national Water safety conference or, you know, interview you about your public policy work. Um, and we have a lot of people in the water safety community from all different sectors that we encourage to get involved, you know, both at the local level, the state level, and if the opportunity presents itself federally, um, with making our congressional leadership, our, you know, state houses and senates aware of, you know, the work that's being done or the work that needs to be done in water safety. But that work can also happen at your local city council or, or township meeting. Um, you know, that actually happened in my community. I'm in rural western Pennsylvania, and we had a drowning a, a couple years ago, uh, during the pandemic. And, you know, we're a very rural county. Speaker 2 00:25:51 We, you know, have a small population. Drowning isn't something that we see often, you know, as, especially when you look at, you know, a state like Florida. Um, but I give, you know, my local township credit, I mean, they figured out I was in their backyard. They called me and said, um, you know, and we're not a a a district, you would say that is very pro-regulation. But even the community leadership was going, you know, my gosh, if we would've had some ordinances in place to require pool fencing or specific barriers around pools, this drowning would likely not have occurred. Um, and sometimes, you know, I, you know, we hear this, I'm sure we have all three experienced this. Oftentimes it's an accident, uh, that needs to take place before action is being willing to be taken by, whether it be local, state, or federal policy makers. So I, you know, keeping that theme of being proactive with this, you know, what do you recommend to people listening who, um, are thinking about maybe going to a town council meeting or going to talk to a state senator or even their congressional representation, um, you know, what should they know? What should they think about, um, to really make their case? Speaker 4 00:27:00 Yeah. You know, it's, it's a great question. And, and, and I love how ndpa is always involved in all. I mean, this advocacy track that we do at the Water Safety Conference is fantastic. And the results have been unbelievable. I mean, I keep thinking back to the, the mother who lost her child in Texas to a rip current, and how somehow in the state of Texas, she got proactive legislation passed requiring educational check marks and even lifeguards. I mean, that to me is, is unbelievable. And shows you what one story, uh, and one tragedy, albeit a terrible tragedy can turn into something that's gonna save lives. So, you know, we all think about the granddaddy of 'em all, which is obviously federal legislation, because it, it, it impacts everybody. And that's why BG B's success is so widespread, but it's not easy. Um, everything had to come together with that, which Alan can, you know, tell us all about state statewide. Speaker 4 00:27:56 It's not easy too. You have so many different jurisdictions in, in different states and different areas and everything. Um, you know, I I, I often tell the story, you know, we had a little, little girl go through a, uh, broken pool gate, Lauren Hinton. She was terribly brain damaged. All we wanted to do is change the, the state inspection form. The code was already there for that. They had to have, but nobody was checking it. The state inspector would check the shepherd's Hook, check your drains, check your water clarity, and not check the fence. And all we wanted to do was change that. And, um, we had it passed through the, the Senate unanimously died in the house because one of the biggest employers in Florida, I won't mention any names, um, accident on the last night because they owned a bunch of timeshares. So you, so how do you get that done? Speaker 4 00:28:48 Well, you get it done through code, you get some builders involved when they redo the building code, you make sure that's put in. And we were able to do that when somebody came to me with the idea, like, stop going through the legislature, just get the change. It changed. And now every inspection form of every Ford inspector, twice a year, they check gates and apartments. So I would tell folks that want to get involved, you know, certainly start with the N D P A, um, see what we have going on federally. What are our issues? Um, your state, your state legislature, you, you've got to find out, you know, who are the stakeholders. You know, people sometimes don't use that term, think it's a bad word, meaning, you know, who are the lobbyists for this group or that group. But if you don't know, you're gonna end up wasting a lot of time, um, if you're trying to pass a bill, because at the end, you didn't know, know the stakeholder is the brother of the speaker of the house against you. I mean, you gotta know those players. You've gotta work with other organizations. But I do think local is, is the most effective. Uh, because we, we, we do have model codes. I mean, we can look at all our model codes of aquatic safety, and you watch 'em, they do pass down, and they are literally, uh, you know, and Alan's holding one up right there. Yep. Speaker 4 00:30:10 You know, they, they do pass down to, to, you can see it. They're, they're written exactly the same, which to me always says, obviously it's right. Everybody has it. Um, but, but, and there's so much to do. I mean, you know, there are so many different areas that if you can get your local water management districts, you know, when you talked about canals and retention ponds and lakes, we don't have the regulation that we have for pools. And it's an absolute travesty, uh, because we know it works, but we don't get it because we can mention all the reasons. That's something I think people can have a big effect on locally. Speaker 2 00:30:47 Well, you know, water's an attractive nuisance to a young child. I mean, you know, and and when I say that, I always preface with, you know, we're not trying to take away the enjoyment and the recreation and the family fund that water presents, but we want it done safely or as safe as possible. And, you know, you mentioned canals. I mean, I, I pay attention, uh, other than c D c I think I am on the Florida D c f database and their drowning, um, uh, data on a weekly basis because, um, you know, Florida, the state government does a fantastic job at D C F of making their data immediately available. They provide a narrative description of how the drowning took place. But I'm often appalled not just of the, you know, kids getting out of their home unexpectedly. I mean, that's something that comes through their data, uh, regularly, but it's the number of canal drownings. I'd say, you know, I'd hazard a guess outside of pools, canals are, are probably the second or third largest risk to children in the state. Speaker 4 00:31:45 Yeah, absolutely. And, and you know, in Florida, there's no, there's no regulation defense, um, op open bo natural bodies of water or retention ponds, which aren't natural. Um, and it's a real problem. The o the, the, there's a requirement for slope. Um, but you know, that, that, you know, what, what does that really do? That doesn't, an unintended child, you know, someone who gets out. And and that's something where, you know, HOAs are becoming so powerful. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, we've all seen the press where if you have a sign in your yard, they're gonna find you, you know, X amount, everything like that. But yet, when an h o a has a lake where, where it's got a slope, where it's got no barriers and everything like that, are they responsible? Are they not? You know, we, we just recently resolved the case against an h o a making the argument that you knew this was a problem. Speaker 4 00:32:34 You knew that that, that this lake would be an issue and you didn't do anything about it. Uh, because they'd have a bunch of complaints. So I would encourage people that live in those type places to talk to their HOAs. You know, you know, do you wanna put up a fence? Do you want to put up some type of barrier? Obviously everybody argues against that because it's the aesthetic of the lake, you know, everything like that. But that's where we're seeing a lot of drownings. And we've gotta come to a common solution there, either regulation wise or policy-wise within some of these organizations. Speaker 2 00:33:05 Well, and I, you know, I would also just, uh, you know, toss out that the advocacy work sometimes isn't easy. You know, you mentioned, um, you know, you could present a piece of legislation, and we've seen this just in this current legislative session across the state houses. Um, you know, you present a bill, you get it maybe into a committee, the committee hears it, maybe it makes it to a floor vote, maybe it doesn't, maybe it dies in the other chamber, dies somewhere along the process. And then, you know, you're left with figuring out, you know, to your point, you know, who was against you doing kind of a, you know, an, uh, an analysis of what took place. And then you maybe, if you want to keep going, you gotta re you know, put in that legislation again, the following legislative session and try again. And sometimes this process can take years and years and years to achieve that success. So I, I often caution, especially, you know, some of our members in Families United to prevent drowning and others who get involved in the public policy spaces, it's absolutely needed. But, you know, just because something didn't happen immediately, don't give up or don't lose faith. It, it, it, it is a process. Speaker 4 00:34:10 It is. And that's great advice, because you think about someone going through the ultimate tragedy, like, like so many of our families do, they can't go in thinking, this is gonna be easy, it's gonna be successful. And, and I do think even when you fail, you're educating. I mean, you're making your issue where the bill is filed. Hopefully there's some, some media on the bill and everything like that. And, and, you know, I always tell people, you're never gonna know the lives you saved. I mean, you, we could, we could all drive around together and go to apartment complexes where we see a kid pushing on that fence, but they can't get in. Yeah. No, that's not getting on the media, that's not going in those stats. But that life was saved because of that code, and whoever passed that code and whoever worked on that. So, you know, education is such a part of it. And, and the more families that are ready and willing to do that, the better. And that's where I think, you know, we, we gotta continue to aid them and help them in that process. Speaker 2 00:35:07 Absolutely. Absolutely. Um, you know, Alan, I I want to kind of toss this to you because I think this is something too that we've, we've mentioned at conferences, I know it's come up in discussions that you and I have done in the past is, you know, whether it be your local representative, your state representative, your federal representative, whether they're a house member, a Senate member, they really work for you and, you know, go engage with their office, go, you know, whether it's emailing their office, whether it's going to a, a town council meeting, um, you know, many of these folks have town hall events where their, their goal is to talk to their constituents. Um, you know, I know you encourage, uh, you know, folks to do that all the time. Um, but, you know, oftentimes we think, oh, I'm never gonna get a chance to meet, you know, the senator or, you know, but sometimes even their staff members, um, you know, meeting their staffers can be a real big deal to get information to them. Speaker 3 00:36:01 You know, Mike Mike's point, and, and, and what was he was talking about, are the families getting involved, having the courage when they're ready to protect other kids? And that's often their major motivation. Um, you know, a lot of our listeners are stakeholders who don't have personal loss, but I always say, instead of finding a friend once, an action at, at a incident happens over time in easy ways that aren't, don't require the sophistication of authorizations and appropriations and chambers and bills and amendments and all that kind of stuff, is instead of react to an incident over the course of the time, over a course of a period of time, a stakeholder, meaning the professionals, uh, out there is make a friend visit. Your mayor, their staff, your council member, the president of your H O H O A, or a staff member in the local district of a congresswoman who, who caress about this issue in Florida, and introduce 'em to your foundation, to your, uh, your safety organization. Speaker 3 00:37:11 Even if you're a firefighter, uh, who's responded this summer to three or four drownings and you're just tired of seeing it. Um, introduce them to what you are doing and how you're doing and what you're doing and how you're doing it. And when the time comes, may not be immediate, but when the time time comes, they'll say, Hey, remember those firefighters that came in, or that plaintiff's attorney that came in to tell us about drowning? We're ready to go. Let's get Mike Haggard on the line. Let's get Alan Corn on the line. Let's get firefighter Joe on the line. Let's get 'em back in here and solve the problem. So it doesn't always have to be a reactive, kind of make some friends educate slowly. And at some point in time that there'll be fruition there, there'll be a fruitful experience. Maybe not fruition, but a fruitful experience. Speaker 2 00:38:01 Yeah. Um, as we kind of wind down the podcast, you know, one thing that I always, you know, like to keep in mind this, especially this time of year as we are heading into, you know, to the summer season, is, you know, oftentimes in drowning, especially as we start to see fatality numbers, you know, we see non-fatal stories hit the media. Um, we are oftentimes kind of, you know, beat down in a way, in the water safety community because it feels like we're not having any impact, or it feels like we're not being successful. And one thing I remind people is we unfortunately, in this space, only hear of the tragedies. We don't hear of the lives saved. Um, but, you know, I I want to just kind of toss this last point out for discussion, because I think all three of us have seen in our time working in water safety, immense change happened. Speaker 2 00:38:48 I mean, I, I see. So I, I see this space so differently than I did 15 years ago when I entered it, um, as a young professional and just, you know, whether that be collaboration, public policy, the research being done, um, I think there's huge momentum happening right now, but I, I always try to keep that front of mind because, you know, yeah. Unfortunately, over the next couple months we are gonna see fatality stories, you know, come in and we are gonna see, hear of tragic accidents. But, um, we need to keep in mind we're making a difference, you know, long into the future, not just, you know, right now, Speaker 3 00:39:20 Mike, that's your opportunity to be a little bit inspirational at the end. Yeah, Speaker 4 00:39:24 Yeah. No, no. Look, I couldn't agree more. I mean, look, look at, I mean, every house built has a pool. I mean, there's more and more water. I mean, you know, and, and that's great because we all love it. There's, there's sub every subdivision. I mean, in Florida that is built, I guarantee you, as a lake, a retention pond, a community pool, and maybe other pools. There's more people. There's, so there's the stats, I think are, you know, we obviously, we want a perfect world. We want a perfect, you know, we want to cure drowning and eliminate it. That's our ultimate aspirational goal. But what we're doing is working. I mean, you can look to B G V and you can just, I mean, how many times can you say to yourself, wow, what what we did has saved countless lives. I mean, I could name you all the clients. Speaker 4 00:40:10 I had all, all the little kids, there's kids just like them now that this did not happen to, same thing when, when Debbie Wasserman Schultz passed the Florida Residential Pool Act. You know, it had been grandfathered in forever, but now, now it's, now it's been on the, the books for many, many years that's saving lives. Um, every great pool fence company, they're getting better and better and better with their product. It's saving lives. So we're, we're making an impact. We're just, we, we want, we want to cure this. I mean, when you, when you do sit across from families like we've all done, you don't want it to happen to anybody else. So you do your best. And I think we're, there's more work to be done, but, but I'm hoping we're gonna get there. Speaker 3 00:40:50 Absolutely. Even this podcast, Adam, is a, is a small sign that there's positive movement. 10 years ago, uh, you, you would, no one would've been interested in this. I'm not sure this is as popular as, wait, wait, don't tell me. But you do have an audience, and people do come and listen, uh, to the podcast. That would've happened by any medium. Even if podcasts didn't exist 15, 10, 15 years ago. The interest is much greater. The activity is much greater. Certainly the Brain Trust has gotten way more sophisticated. Our guest is a perfect example of that. So, um, uh, you know, I'm positive about it from that perspective. Speaker 2 00:41:30 Absolutely. Well, I am too. And you know, Mike, uh, I, I, I am curious, but I think this is a perfect lead into the final question on the podcast. And, um, I, I love asking this question because, you know, hearing everyone's different responses, you know, in, in a world free from, you know, any restrictions if that exists. Um, so I'm gonna hand you a magical water safety wand, and you could change one thing in water safety, uh, be a big or small, you know, take away any of the restrictions and barriers out there. What would Mike Haggard change in water safety? Speaker 4 00:42:02 Yeah, you know, I, I, I don't wanna wait till someone famous, famous politically, uh, their granddaughter dies because of a pool gate. Um, that's what we had to wait for, for entrapment. I mean, and it was, it was wrong. And so if I could wave that wand, I would want the V G B Act replicated for barriers and fences, for all pools. And if it's a true magic wand somehow for, uh, you know, natural bodies of water too, I think that would save thousands and thousands of lives. It's, it's not a regulation that would, you know, impin anybody's rights, you know, and everything along those lines. I mean, it's already required. It's just gotta be better enforced. And who better to do that than what like we did. I mean, we have the replica, we have, we have the perfect model to follow in that. And it's actually simpler because, you know, when you talk about suction traffic, you talk about drains and anti vortex and svds, and it's all complicated. We're just talking about a fence in, in a fence with a gate. You know, it's kind of simpler, um, in some ways. So that would be it. I would love to see that Bill signed and, and sit, sit together somewhere with you two, just talk about how many lives we saved and, and those beautiful children will grow up to be great, great adults and parents themselves. Speaker 2 00:43:26 Well, and that, that is, uh, that is something that would put us all out of business. Um, because I, you know, we look at the data, right? Meet, meet the problem where it's at 70% of young kids drowning during nons swim times. And, you know, there's not many examples out there where this has been tried and, and, you know, even seen results. But Australia's a great example. I mean, they substantially cut their toddler drowning problem. Um, and, you know, that coincides when they got a little bit more serious about pool fencing and enforcing the requirements for pool fencing and a little bit of a different government model. But, but things like that do work to, to significantly reduce numbers. Speaker 4 00:44:03 Yeah. And who really complained about once, once Vgp was passed, and once industry got involved in everything, who really complained about the requirements. I mean, you Yep. No more. You have a pool, you're plumbing your pool. You're, you, you know, it's, you know, and so, you know, in apartment complexes, don't really complain about the requirement hotels have their alarms or self-closing self, you know, only ways to get out to the pool area, you know, and I think I, I just think it's gotta be done. And, and, and we've gotta continue to do what, what the nd p has led the charge on and education showing this data. I mean, that great, the great, uh, uh, presentation y'all had today on, on, on the data. I mean, that, that sharing that with the leaders with different people and all the things we talked about, I think could get us to our goal. And let's not wait till it happens to someone famous. I mean, it's happening to too many kids. Speaker 2 00:44:51 Absolutely. Well, gentlemen, thank you both for joining us for this episode of the N D P A, uh, water Safety Champion podcast. Definitely two excellent water safety champions, my esteemed co-host, Alan Korn, and of course, our guest Mike Haggard today. Uh, thank you so much for joining us. And for those of you listening at home, uh, be sure to keep an eye out for future episodes of the N D P A Water Safety Champion Podcast. Coming up, we will have interviews with Morag McKay, the chair of the US National Water Safety Action Plan that'll be launching this summer. Um, thanks for listening and we'll see you soon. Stay safe this summer and, uh, look forward to another episode of the N D P A Water Safety Champion Podcast.

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