“United, we can prevent the tragedy of drowning.” While this short mission statement seems like just simple words, they are the essence of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s core values and beliefs. The NDPA is U.S. based 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a simple mission to attack a complex problem. According to the World Health Organizations’ Global Drowning Report, drowning takes the lives of an estimated 372,000 individuals each year and countless more experience a non-fatal drowning. In the U.S. specifically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 3,602 fatal drownings and 9,001 non-fatal drowning victims seeking emergency department care in 2015. With these staggeringly high numbers something must be done to combat drowning and increase water safety.
As mentioned above, drowning is a complex problem due to the multitude of factors that can contribute to a drowning. Swimming ability, supervision, socio-economic status, the environment, and lack of barriers are just some of the factors that can contribute to a drowning. So the question becomes; “how do you effectively prevent drowning?” While there isn’t a magic pill that can prevent drowning, we do know it is 100% preventable. The NDPA believes that we all must work together to prevent drowning and must attack the problem for all angles. The Alliance is comprised of members, partners, and sponsors who all have a vested interested in preventing drowning. This is operationalized by a structure of four distinct internal pillars working together towards a common goal. These pillars include NDPA’s Educational Partners, Corporate Partners, Task Force and Coalitions, and Families United to Prevent Drowning. Additionally, the individual members of the NDPA work in their communities every day to prevent tragedy. By bringing everyone together to fight for a common goal the NDPA believes they can positively impact drowning prevention and save lives.
In addition to their unique structure, the NDPA also hosts the only national conference solely dedicated to the topic of drowning prevention in the U.S. each year. In 2017, NDPA hosted one of their most successful events to date in Pittsburgh, PA. The NDPA is already hard at work planning for their 2018 Educational Conference in Tampa, FL. which is scheduled for April 2-7, 2018. Over 35 speakers have been selected to present on over 30 unique and informative topics. The NDPA has partnered with the Aquatic Law and Safety Institute to host the Aquatic Law and Risk Management Symposium and the International Rip Current Symposium in conjunction with the 2018 conference. The NDPA is also excited to announce that they have selected New Orleans, LA. as the host city for the 2019 conference and Fort Worth, TX. as the host city for the 2020 conference. For more information on NDPA’s annual conference, you can visit www.NDPAConference.org.
Another important aspect to the NDPA is its leadership. Dr. Adam Katchmarchi took over as NDPA’s newly minted Executive Director on July 1, 2017. Dr. Katchmarchi is no stranger to the NDPA. He served on the organization’s board of directors for 4 years and held past positions of Secretary, Vice President, and most recently as President before taking the helm as the Executive Director. Dr. Katchmarchi is an academic and researcher by trade as he is an Assistant Professor and the Aquatics Director for Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). IUP has served as NDPA’s national headquarters since 2016. Melissa Sutton of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona replaced Dr. Katchmarchi as president this year. She brings years of experience to the NDPA along with a passion for water safety, as Arizona continues to be a hotspot for drowning. Blake Collingsworth of the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation is serving as Vice President. Mr. Collingsworth joined the NDPA after losing his son to a drowning in 2008. The NDPA also has 14 board members representing a wide spectrum of experience and expertise.
The NDPA truly believes that drowning and aquatic injury numbers both in the U.S. and abroad can be substantially reduced. It isn’t going to be easy and it isn’t going to happen overnight. However, we can and must succeed on this goal. The NDPA will continue to work on new and innovated approaches to drowning prevention and water safety in the coming years. If you would like more information or would like to join the NDPA as a member, please go to www.NDPA.org or email ADMIN@NDPA.org.