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. later.
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 trips 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 public waterfronts.
- 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 issues.