Since 1983, Ellis & Associates (E&A) has been the leader in aquatic safety and risk management, delivering training and life-saving technologies geared toward accident prevention and accountability. For the past 36 years, the firm has hosted “International Aquatic Safety School” (IASS), the largest and most comprehensive lifeguard instructor training and risk management conference in the world. A record number of aquatics professionals from theme and water parks, recreation centres, swim schools, resorts, destinations, commercial pool management, and educational institutions came together January 16-21 to advance their skills, obtain certifications, and network with peers at all levels.
This year’s edition of IASS was highlighted by an opening keynote presentation from Jason Freeman, Corporate Vice President of Security, Safety, Health and Environmental at Six Flags Entertainment. In his presentation, Freeman shared how his own career path, taking on multiple roles and learning new skills, demonstrates that each and every one of us can be extraordinary by accepting new challenges and simply putting forth our best effort every day. Freeman reminded the group of safety-driven attendees that by showing up, being accountable and doing the right thing, the spotlight will find each and every one of them right where they are.
“After delivering a one-off virtual edition of IASS last year, getting together in person, getting in the water to train, networking with our peers, and soaking up the Arizona sun felt better than we could have imagined,” said Richard “RAC” Carroll, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Ellis and Associates. “We had a record number of attendees that benefited from an amazing itinerary filled with course instruction, professional development, team-building and personal growth.”
The IASS Director Team, consisting of Denise Beckson from Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks, Mike Bengston from Splish Splash Waterpark, Liz Caywood from Fort Wayne Community Schools and Trish Lyons from Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks, together with the IASS faculty and E&A staff, introduced a new award in memory of one of the greatest leaders in the aquatics industry, Vera Solis. The Versa Solis Leadership Award, voted on by attendees, was given to one person from each group of IASS attendees, recognizing them for demonstrating the traits Vera was widely known and respected for: passion, positive attitude and leadership.
“Vera Solis was part of the E&A community for more than 35 years,” said Beckson. “She was instrumental in developing leading-edge training programs that to this day protect swimmers around the world. Every lifeguard candidate, instructor candidate and instructor trainer that was blessed to work with Vera had the opportunity to be guided by her commitment to service, leadership and accountability.”