On August 21, 2004, Mitchell Temple-Medhurst drowned while
visiting Main Beach in Port Stanley, Ontario.
Mitchell and three other children were under the care
of three agency workers from Madame Vanier Children Services.
The four boys were playing 30 m from shore in chest-deep water
while the agency workers supervised them from shore. At the
time, three lifeguards were monitoring the more than 600 m of
shoreline from one central lifeguard tower over 150 m from
where the boys were playing.
These circumstances led to Mitchell's disappearance and to the
subsequent discovery of his body on the lake bottom 45 min.
Michael Shane, the Society's safety management director,
testified as an expert witness at the inquest.
The highlights of his report include:
- Third party care givers should adhere to the Lifesaving Society
admission policy when planning trip to supervised sites - see the
Lifesaving Society Guide to Public Pools Regulation, in
which specific age, swimming ability and bather supervision
requirements are listed.
- Waterfront operators should establish guidelines for safe beach
supervision and post them in the staff office. These guidelines
should dictate when and where lifeguards are to be stationed, their
zones or responsibility, and their rotation patterns. The
Lifesaving Society should participate in this review.
- Ensure that lifeguards and part-time or volunteer firefighters
are readily identifiable at all times, on land and in water.
- Coordinate response protocols and encourage interaction through
training sessions among emergency personnel, i.e., fire, ambulance
and police with the beach patrol.
- With assistance from the Lifesaving Society and other partner
organizations, the Ministry of Health should create, approve and
enforce a new regulation governing the operation of supervised
- Institute a lifejacket loaner program for children swimming at
Port Stanley Main Beach.
- Revise the Lifesaving Society Waterfront Safety
Guidelines equipment list by adding:
- 1 drowning marker,
- 1 buoyant rope line at least 25 m in length,
- 1 portable megaphone.
As Canada's lifeguarding experts, the Lifesaving Society
establishes aquatic safety standards and consults on aquatic safety