Special Episode 1: Coalition & Collaboration Leaders

Episode 8 November 29, 2021 00:36:38
Special Episode 1: Coalition & Collaboration Leaders
The Water Safety Podcast
Special Episode 1: Coalition & Collaboration Leaders
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Show Notes

Join special guest hosts Will Koon & Tizzy Bennett for episode 1 of a special podcast series as they interview coalition and collaboration leaders in drowning prevention. In this first interview they chat with Tony Gomez from Washington state.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:01 I tizzy. Hi and hello to everybody else listening. So this is the first of a series of really incredible conversations about partnership and collaboration for drowning prevention, a focus specifically on statewide coalitions for water safety by way of introduction. My name is William Coon. I am a drowning prevention researcher and practitioner from California, and I'm part of a larger group of stakeholders in the state. Who've been working to launch a statewide water safety coalition. So in California, we are really lucky to be starting out with several active and really amazing local coalitions. Um, we also have a strong track record for statewide collaboration, and I think most importantly, an amazing group of passionate, drowning prevention advocates. So as part of this effort to establish a more formal mechanism for statewide partnership, we thought it was prudent to look beyond our own state and intentionally seek to gather some lessons learned from other states who've been down this path before. So to that end to provide a bit of guidance in this learning process and some wisdom and insight. I invited one of my mentors and dear friends, tizzy Bennett to help us figure out how we could do this work well and share it in a meaningful way. So tizzy first, thank you for being so incredible throughout this whole project. Would you please provide those listening with a bit of context on who you are and what your connection is to drowning prevention? Speaker 1 00:01:34 You bet. So my name's tizzy Bennett and I started working in drowning prevention in the early 1990s in my role at Seattle children's hospital. And over 30 years have done a lot of different programs and initiatives and campaigns, including being heavily involved in the start and maintenance of the Washington state drowning prevention network. I also have a deep background in public health, and I've really brought that to this work in drowning prevention. And now I co-chair the live check at PFD and other flotation working group for the development of the first United States national water safety action plan. Speaker 0 00:02:19 Thanks dizzy. So when we first started talking about what it would look like to try and characterize some of these lessons and advice on state level water safety groups for the California effort, you and I began to see that, you know, the lessons learned were probably applicable beyond, you know, this specific effort for California. Speaker 1 00:02:40 That's exactly right. So in our interviews with these state leaders, you might hear us or them refer to California or the efforts underway in California. But I think the advice and lessons they describe are really for anyone who's looking to do some learning around collaboration and partnership for drowning prevention, whether that's at a state, a local or a national level. I think this project and the lessons learned here are especially relevant for those working in drowning prevention in the United States as next year, the first national water safety action plan will be released. These conversations may be a great place for those looking to start some sort of collaborative group to tackle the national plans, recommendations or provide some motivation, new thinking, new ideas for those groups that are already established, if anything, I'm hopeful. And we're hopeful. These interviews, spark conversations among, and between individuals, organizations, and coalitions who are dedicated to preventing Browning and keeping people safe in a near the water. Speaker 0 00:03:46 Excellent. So before we get into our first interview, a couple logistical items, Tiffany and I sent each person that we interviewed a shortlist of questions, so they could get an idea of what we were going to talk about. So you may hear people in these interviews refer to the written questions, um, in our conversation, we held all these interviews on zoom so we could see each other, but we only edited the audio for release here. Lastly, tizzy and I are passionate water safety people, but not professional podcasters. So thank you in advance for your understanding as we've done our best to make this, um, an informative and enjoyable listening experience for you. So with that tizzy, can you transition us to our first interview? Speaker 1 00:04:29 Thanks well, and it is such a great privilege for me to introduce Tony Gomez. He is my friend. He is my mentor. He's been my longtime colleague and Tony has been involved with drowning prevention with Dr. Linda Kwan and me and many others in our state for longer than I have been involved. And that's a really long time. And he brings such a wealth of experience and perspective and wisdom to this idea around a drowning prevention network and earlier on, uh, was a coalition in Seattle and king county. So this is such a great way for us to launch. Speaker 0 00:05:24 As we look forward to this interview, is there any kind of background information that the listener should know about? Speaker 1 00:05:32 Just a couple of quick things when Tony says children's that refers to Seattle children's hospital, where I used to work. And when he says Harbor view, typically he's referencing the Harbor view injury prevention and research center. Harbor view is also a medical center. So he may also be speaking to it as a healthcare organization, as well as an injury prevention. Speaker 0 00:05:58 Uh, just one more thing. You will hear Tony referenced something called the prevention Institute that we strongly recommend. You just do a quick Google. The prevention Institute has some really incredible resources on developing effective coalitions, collaboration and assessment tools, um, and, and some actually really helpful information on this idea of turf intention between different stakeholders. So it may be helpful for you to, to look up the prevention Institute with that. This is our conversation with Tony Gomez, from Washington state, Speaker 1 00:06:34 Tony. I would love if you could introduce yourself and give us a little bit of background on who you are and what you do and how you got into water safety. Speaker 2 00:06:47 Um, yes, I'm Tony Gomez and I manage violence and injury prevention at public health, Seattle and Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr county. And, um, I've always had an interest in drowning prevention going back to when I was high school at carton hearing of, uh, people drowning in lifeguard and pools and kind of thinking how could that happen? And then as well, um, from doing rescues myself, uh, need some open water as well as, uh, pool situations. So I think, uh, like many involved in this field as both personal and professional. Speaker 0 00:07:23 So I want to jump in and talk about the Washington state Gianni prevention network. And I'd like, if you could paint a little bit of a picture for us of how that group started and maybe what some of the early days looked like. Speaker 2 00:07:41 Yeah. Um, so in terms of the start of our water safety work, it actually originated with a small CDC grant. You know, the injury field does so much with small grants. So Harbor view injury center was serving as a steering committee member and leader, and they identified these, um, I think it was eight or $9,000 grants in order to start frowning prevention coalitions. So we applied for a local one for king county, state of Florida, decided to go for the whole state of Florida with theirs. And, um, so, you know, on convening members, we decided to do it in public health folks do, which is like a data, are the numbers, where are they occurring? Um, see what our role might be and, um, established our county coalition. And then we're just so fortunate to have children's as a partner from the outset, with this collaboration between the academic center and university of Washington, our review Seattle children's and Dr. Speaker 2 00:08:44 Kwan, and then his, he joining us because, uh, her energy and abilities, um, really brought us up to, uh, a new, a new level. And so, um, when we became a statewide network, that was largely as a result of tizzy, Cathy Williams at the department of health, um, and a CDC grant, again, probably not a huge grant, but enough that it brought a kind of credibility to the work and that brought some staffing and it allowed us to continue to, um, to grow the number of partners to have the most effect for, you know, amount of time we were putting in, um, given where we were still largely a volunteer organization of sorts in that, uh, um, uh, people were either volunteering time or carving out time out of their kind of regular work for this part of this effort. Speaker 1 00:09:40 And Tony, I also remember that in their early days of the king county and Seattle coalition, people started coming from lots of other counties because they were interested in trout and prevention. So that was part of that evolution to a statewide network as well, is that we were seeing in a one county coalition, there would be eight counties coming to that. Speaker 2 00:10:04 Yeah, that's a good reminder that, um, part of it was, um, the injury and violence field at the local health department level. And even at the state was still in development phases. There was some injury prevention, especially drowning prevention occurring in environmental health divisions throughout the county, because they were responsible for ensuring health and safety at the regulated cools hotel, motels, clubs, apartments, that type of thing. And then the water parks, we went from having one water park in king county to like, I think eight were being proposed at one time, this explosion of water parks throughout the country. And even in our state, uh, brought a lot of interest from that environmental health side, along with maternal child health interests. And so that was, um, part of it was, um, know bringing in, um, statewide folks, other county folks. And, um, and then going through some trainings together. Speaker 2 00:11:06 One of the important tools we came to learn about was the spectrum of prevention out of the prevention Institute. And in looking at that framework with policy development at its top level, working with community, working through organizations down to individual level, um, improvements like, uh, oh, teaching swim lessons, one at a time we're in a group setting or distributing life jackets. We just decided we needed to work, um, through all of those, um, levels of the spectrum to have, um, a chance to be effective. And in terms of, in terms of that galvanizing event to, you know, as we were trying to figure out how to establish ourselves, one of our members, um, we found out that, uh, Arizona, where they are losing the kids today to mostly backyard pool drownings had not an event called April pools today. And they had trained, I think, 40,000, some people in a sun devil stadium on CPR. Speaker 2 00:12:12 Well, we talked about whether that was a model for us and learn that yeah, pretty much a great CPR medic one town. So probably wasn't darn easy to hear, but everybody loved the April pools, date name. And, uh, so we turned it into our own event with allowing pools to open up their doors to the public, have a free swim or in some water safety and then bringing in elected officials and other celebrities and, and our members to, to get some attention early season, uh, with water safety. So it was fun to have those early galvanizing events. And it really was a strong co-leadership, um, between health folks, the hospitals, Seattle children's, um, the parks departments at state and local levels. And then industry was, um, also very interested in getting on board. Speaker 1 00:13:05 I love how you brought up April pools day, Tony, because one of the things that's so great about it is many people in the water safety arena are practitioners at heart and April pools day was something we could all get behind and it took a more theoretical data and brought it down to what's something I can do in my community today, next week, next year, what's something we can all do together and then have a community-based at con you know, approach to it. So April pools, states a really great example of an actual activity we got involved with, but also just help people get going. I'm gonna move us on to, um, for you to talk a little bit about how the drowning prevention network is organized. Speaker 2 00:13:58 So our current statewide network has leadership from Washington state parks voting, uh, folks. So that brings a lot of the open water and bloating. We also have the Washington parks and records recreation association, which includes, um, the, uh, lifeguards, each managers, pool managers. A lot of that field, um, includes health with Seattle. Children's really kind of serving as our, um, kinda lead agency, if you will, in terms of organizing and convening, we've gone from, you know, originally back in the day for monthly meetings to twice a year, and right now, virtual meetings, um, it also includes our safe kids, coalitions, uh, which are some fabulous partners and the state department of health, which has been good. And so we've just, um, kind of feel like we have everything covered from big water boating, um, to pools, spas, even the backyard pools, um, where we've had some accomplishment over the years as well and reducing drownings, Speaker 0 00:15:09 But Tony, you've got a, a really diverse group of stakeholders in that group. And from the history, what you just described at it, it started as being very health focused, right. Um, you know, Seattle children's was involved. Harbor view was involved, king county public health was involved. And now it seems like, um, lots of the more rec recreation folks are involved, which is great. I want to ask you a little bit about leadership and I mean, quickly governance structure, because a lot of folks who are looking at establishing coalitions, you know, they're looking at, do we have a board? Do we have an executive director? Do we have a lead agency? And there's all these different models. So can you describe just quickly who leads the coalition and how does the actual administration of, of the group happen? Speaker 2 00:16:05 Yeah, currently it really is consensus and consensus building. Um, we, we plan our meetings and we're in the middle of one. Now we had a morning today and then a morning tomorrow that, um, we'll finish in order to, to give a well-rounded, um, uh, set of programs and, and, uh, activities underway. Um, so we, we did look at, because again, the credentialed Institute had a nice paper out on, um, you know, if you're going to undertake a prevention effort, you form a task force, and what's kind of the definition of a task force, and it's kind of a time limited sort of thing. You form a network or you a coalition, uh, what exactly are we? And I think, um, our network structure is, is nice in that. Um, it is the shared leadership. Everybody's willing to do some level of work. Um, and we're going to start, uh, also having, um, shared or facilitation of our meetings, um, than it for a lot of years tomorrow, our Seattle parks quantics versus is gonna lead us and we're going to continue to build, like, build on that. Speaker 2 00:17:26 Um, and I think, you know, it's kind of like almost interchangeable in a sense between a coalition and a network, but even a network's a little less governance structured. And that coalition, you kind of have a coalition chair. Um, there are lots of places where they do have boards and kind of set out established, um, um, bylaws and guidelines, you know, safe kids and some of those models, um, have those. And I think for where we're at with the funding we have, um, that is probably the best structure that exists for us. It may be that for another organization, depending on funding or hierarchy, um, there may need to be a more formal structure, but these are all things to explore with the steering committee. Um, as one would start to develop, uh, a new program Speaker 1 00:18:29 And Tony would, would you agree having now been doing this for 30 some odd years, the coalition that back to the way it first got started with a little bit of money for admin support, there has to be an organization that's willing to put in some resource for admin support. And right now that's children's hospital. That's doing that when we have not had any capacity or ability to have admin support, it it's felt like it's been harder to just pull off the logistics of bringing people together and keeping things, keeping momentum going. Speaker 2 00:19:15 Yeah, absolutely. That's the whole, children's, I'm not sure we would, uh, in your work have a network at this point. Um, we've we probably would have something, but it wasn't the, what we're able to achieve today. So it really is, um, important that, um, leadership of the organization at the highest level knows about this and supports this. Um, and it's part of what I'm kind of revisiting right now with, um, our need to develop a better king county area plan given we've seen some huge increases in drowning as a result of, um, both increased warming, so more exposure to the water and probably less supervision with the lifeguard shortages. And, and it reminded me we need to get our highest level of elected leadership, um, more aware of the importance of aquatics water safety, and to build those bridges with the climate change leaders that are, uh, embarking upon their work, um, chronic disease prevention for a healthier, uh, community, and then even, um, importantly, the, um, disaster preparedness folks, because as we've seen play out here, there's a whole lot of communities that could have benefit or could benefit from having life jackets in every home, during a flooding of that, or having life jackets readily available, um, in tsunami, earthquake prone areas, um, and that, you know, having those resources of those nature available in getting more general usage and non-emergency events probably at a population level, cause we in public health, we in the, in, in the leadership field need to think about that population level work. Speaker 2 00:21:32 So having those, um, resources and information in those partnerships, I think helps make for a safer, uh, situation for, for our population as a whole. Speaker 1 00:21:47 And as you say that, you know, one of the questions that we have on the, um, on the list today, it's, you know, how do you keep a coalition going over a long period of time? And one of the ways you do that is by evolving, recreating, looking at how things are changing. And those are great examples around disaster response, climate change. Really great. I'm going to move us to the next question. Um, Tony, and of course, this is one of my very favorite questions always is talk a little bit about what you think have been some successes, as well as some challenges of the group. Speaker 2 00:22:31 I think at that high level policy change, um, you know, Seattle children's, is he better at leading the passage of the life jacket law for children that continues to be discussed, came up on today's call. Uh, Oregon would like to advance some something along those lines, cause these were referencing some fifties laws. Um, and so I think that was a great accomplishment of the, of the network with the strong leadership at, uh, Seattle children's. So that's kind of the one end of the spectrum. On the other end, we were able to get state law changed for backyard pools that all new pools have to have good foresight and fencing and education around that. So that involved, um, getting the building code council, legislature, governor to adopt these changes based on best practices. So that was, um, extremely helpful. And I think one of the, um, other accomplishment is, um, the champion of child fatality reviews, our most precious resource, our most vulnerable children, looking at those cases in order to look at the, that led to and would prevent those deaths. And if you know, the entire world had a child fatality review process that led to, um, policy and other prevention efforts, we could probably like, we didn't keep counting for three years. We had no child drown in our population here with all the lakes and rivers for three-year periods. So it shows that you can really accomplish tremendous things with those prevention efforts. Speaker 0 00:24:12 Hey, real quick for people who might not know what a child death review team is in 10 or 15 seconds, could you describe what that looks like? Speaker 2 00:24:22 Yeah. It's an expert committee and can include community members that comes together to review review all the factors that led to a child death typically under confidential, uh, legislative proceeding, so that it's not available and open to media. It's not a public meeting because of the kinds of conversations that would happen. And then it allows, um, those recommendations to be used for, uh, future prevention efforts for policy to that individual level change. And within that spectrum of prevention framework Speaker 1 00:24:55 And kudos to you, Tony, for what you've done to actually bridge that from seeking to understand what happened in a child drowning death, to how you take a prevention recommendation that might be made in that group and actually move it forward versus all it was all that happened is it was set in a room and nothing further. So I think that, um, that's a great connection and why bringing in public health, along with, uh, drowning prevention and water safety organizations really helps to do that bridging how about challenges? Speaker 2 00:25:37 Well, you know, it was small, it's an accomplishment and an ongoing challenges. Our open water guidelines work, um, Seattle children's department of health, getting the CDC grant to develop the best practices on open water that you wouldn't. We, you know, we want lifeguards that are swim beaches. We also want clean water there. So clarity of an operational plan, a review system, and, you know, it's an excellent model and it's a voluntary at this point. We've now done the literature review, done the research that published a paper that shows that states that have stronger open water, uh, rules and regulations have less drowning in these types of settings. So our challenge is even to get our state to adopt a and move in that direction, it was supposed to happen some 35 plus years ago when I started and it's, um, one remaining unmet need out of our environmental health group. Um, and you know, I think the challenge of COVID is, uh, um, a valid reason for putting everything on hold. But as soon as we get the chance, we've got to help try to push and scoot that along so that we're not at the end of the line again. Speaker 0 00:26:54 Oh, Hey, can I ask, um, maybe it might not be a challenge in your room, but in many groups that have lots of different people involved from different sectors, um, getting everybody on the same page and getting everybody to collaborate can be difficult. Um, you know, something that I loved about the Washington drowning prevention network meetings was sitting in a room with folks from public health and folks from the sheriff and folks from fire and folks from parks and rec and the people who ran the water parks and the environmental health guy. Who's talking about microbes in the pool. Like it was just such a diverse group of people over the history of the coalition. Has it ever been a challenge to move those folks in the same direction? And, and what kind of advice or recommendations would you have for groups who are setting out to embark on this process with lots of different people involved? You know, how do we, how do we get all the people to play in the same sandbox? Um, over the long-term? Speaker 2 00:28:04 Yeah, that's a really good question. And, um, I think it has been challenging because there's, um, some of our attendees are there to hear the information to present what they're working on and get some ideas, but they really have no interest in advancing policy. Um, and so I, I, as, as we kind of thinking about future work, I think there is a role for sub committees and it came up on today's call for example, of, um, we probably need some, some breakout sections on because the topics are so diverse and see if we can, uh, get some folks to work on various of the, of the topics in a subcommittee setting given, you know, hopefully we'll, we'll get improved resources at some point, um, similar to other public health areas to have both leadership and, um, membership funded at some level. But absent that, I think we're going to have to have, um, some topics specific sub committees that are going to have to tackle some of these things and then that, and then folks can, self-select what they have interest in. You know, what it may be that we have the broader meeting with lots of attendees, lots of interest and lots of interesting things share. And then when it comes to specific work, um, you know, we ended up with four to six folks that are part of that subcommittee that is gonna, you know, put the hours in with perhaps a broader group of, of community and other stakeholders that have interest to try to advance whatever that issue is. Speaker 0 00:29:40 That's super, I think that, you know, that self-selecting committee, um, is really powerful because it gets experts in there and then figuring out a clever way to make sure that there's cross-pollination between those groups is key. Right. I want to ask you both one more question on this topic and it has to do with geography. So from your early days as a Seattle king county based coalition expanded to a statewide coalition, how did you manage to ensure that folks in Eastern Washington or, I mean, the Southern part of the state were included and felt like they were valuable contributors to the coalition? Um, because I think in lots of regions and, you know, like my home in California, you know, our waters, they do world is very Southern California focused. Right. Um, and, and we want to include the whole state. What recommendations would you have for, you know, that regional inclusion piece, either tizzy or Tony? Speaker 1 00:30:45 Uh, when we first started, we would meticulously have one meeting on the west side of the cascades and the other meeting on the east side of the cascades. So we were very attentive to that and wanted to be sure we were not only driving out of Seattle and king county as time has gone on having a place where you have all the technology it's really about removing barriers to participation. And one of the ways to remove barriers to participation is to make it accessible. And now I think we have so much more available to us over the last year and a half, actually to have zoom meetings, to have both in-person and zoom, where you can bring people together in that way. But we have tried to have conference call options and video, uh, you know, teleconference options and zoom options and geographic options. But, um, that I think those things have helped. Tony, what about you? Speaker 2 00:31:49 Yeah, that was good. Cause I had forgotten, we had that very conscious conversation about going east and west and taking the effort and sometimes we'd go east and we'd just get a few extra folks, but we, we, we, uh, made the best effort we could and, um, still be a great, but I think too, you know, something cheesy and children's did was, would invite speakers from those parts of the states to, to give their programs, um, uh, so that they're invested in the work. And, um, and then as they decided to try to do something in their local region, it was often encouraged like, Hey, is this something that can go statewide too? And so then the folks out of those other regions would work on that to, to make it available, um, uh, to others. And then, you know, a lot of it also includes, um, you know, being able to encourage and have kind of frameworks for how to have consistent messaging across the state. Speaker 2 00:32:52 So when they do media in Spokane or another part of the, of the state, um, we're, we're saying pretty much the same thing. And instead of getting away from this, you get away from this nonspecific, be safe out there messaging to like, what are the very concrete actions that our, our network agrees to in line with coast guard, EAP or academy of peds or others, or we've established, um, so that we have that consistent messaging. And so that then as they do media in their own region, um, you know, they have the tools that make them feel, um, comfortable with it. And then the last piece is that, you know, um, also wanted everybody to do the round, the table updates, you know, three to five minutes. And so that's where we would hear from what's going on from each person around the state. And then they're invested in what they're going to be thinking about and presenting and today's conversation, for example, um, included like just, it stayed over a hundred day after day in Eastern Washington this year. And the person that have been Franklin will say, and that was not only just a hundred, it was like 115 and 117. And it was really a tough summer and the national media kept showing the space needle and continues to do so when they talk about climate change and meeting, it was like, you know, we had like three hot days here. Okay. Why do they keep showing the space needle? Well, Eastern Washington was just boiling for a month that I have, Speaker 0 00:34:33 I can imagine too, that that consistent messaging is really helpful too, even just within the different sectors. Right? So the swim school is saying the same thing as the fire chief, which is saying the same thing as the coast guard. Who's saying the same thing as, you know, all the other people in the room, which is really valuable. So, um, we are kind of running out of time. And so 20, I want to ask one last question, um, which is broad in, and that is what would be your advice for folks who are starting this process. We're looking at, um, forming a multi-sectorial coalition to advance water safety and drowning prevention in a community. What would be your advice for those folks who are, who are just starting out on this journey? Speaker 2 00:35:20 Well, I think getting, uh, your local or state data would be a great start. And then I think that our field shares and, um, and, uh, works well together. And there's any number of folks that would be glad to help with some ideas and discussions I expect both of you would be very helpful and willing to do that. I'd be willing to do that. And then other tasks, other, uh, drowning prevention experts around the country are always willing to share information. And so, you know, have those conversations so that you can kind of envision what you want to do, where you want to go. Um, as you use the data to inform your work, look at the literature, um, think about, uh, best practices, think about best practices for coalition or network building. And then, um, what are the sorts of, uh, rewards that attendees can have, um, to sell it to their organizations, um, for both visibility and actual prevention or effectiveness to them, continue to do the loop to just assuring, uh, you know, an important public health issue gets addressed.

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