Kid Drownings

After decades of failure, the well-intentioned still don't get it

Data wasn't the only issue.

No one wanted to discuss finances on the record. And yet money was the keystone to this civic campaign.

None of the promotions undertaken by the media, for example, were launched until a financial sponsor was located.

Steve Satterwhite
Channel 10's Dave Munsey spearheaded the media's drowning-prevention effort in 1980.
Channel 10's Dave Munsey spearheaded the media's drowning-prevention effort in 1980.

One source intimately involved with the production of the television spots on pool drowning observed, anonymously, "Even Dave Munsey is sponsored. They don't do anything without money, that's just the fact."

Paying cash for sponsorship identification isn't inherently wrong, but the issues in Maryvale involve a commitment of community resources, and therefore the allocation of limited funds is not a small question.

The 1,500-plus pools in Maryvale would need approximately $3 million to fence. Furthermore, they would need an ordinance or a statute to address the issue of their "grandfathered" status. It's all about money.

"If you passed a law, it would be an unfunded mandate," observed the Phoenix Fire Department's Khan. "We are laying people off, and [without funding] it's just going to be a feel-good piece of legislation. Where does the money come from? We don't have the resources to get out and inspect hazardous buildings that are dangerous to the community as a whole, much less to inspect homes that are a risk to a single family."

Are the firefighters prepared to lead the political fight in front of city councils, or at the statehouse, the way they've led so many other civic campaigns?

The question gives Khan pause.

"You'll have people who are opposed and lobbying against it because there is a cost involved," observes Kahn. "We lose a classroom of children a year in a Valley that has two million people. That probably isn't enough to get somebody that involved in it."

Khan's difficult conclusion has certainly proven true in the past, but what of the future?

"We don't have the juice or resources to do something like that," concludes Kahn.

In reality, there are few organizations in all of Arizona with the juice of the firefighters. Firefighters led the fight to change the Phoenix city council elections to district votes and have been a potent political force ever since. One of their leaders is a special assistant to Governor Jane Hull, and no serious candidate for public office tosses their hat into the ring without considering the role of the firefighters union.

The president of the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association, Billy Shields, says they would back an effort to address the unfenced pools in Maryvale.

"We'd absolutely be behind that," says Shields. "I wasn't aware of the grandfather clauses, but that would definitely help. Pool fences are proven to work. Even if it makes people angry, we should do what we can to get them in everywhere."

Two Seconds Is Too Long. Just a Few Seconds, Target Zero, and Enough Is Enough. Pick the slogan of choice, but with so many messages coming from so many places, the effort just blends into a cacophony of background noise.

One producer involved in a variety of television campaigns could no longer recall a single, specific promotion: "All I remember is seeing sponsor logos over wavy water."

As Bob Khan states, "We need to look at ourselves, look at parenting skills, and constantly remind people what the stakes are." The stakes are that, unless something truly effective is implemented, the Valley will continue to lose around 20 kids per year.

The state is entering the third decade of this effort, and hasn't made any significant progress toward reducing numbers for more than a year or two at a time.

"We are judged as a society by how we protect those who cannot protect themselves," says Khan. "And we're failing."

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Diane Moore
Diane Moore

The solution to this is soooooo simple, yet seems to be too much trouble for these parents. All they have to do is WATCH their children... and be sure they are taught safety in and around water. My grandbaby is 2 1/2 years and can swim like a fish. He is just finishing an ISR Swimming course this week... I do NOT believe in fences, they give false security. I raised 5 extremely active (and sometimes naughty) children without a fence around our pool, and they are all grown up now... I can appreciate that parents are busy sometimes, but it only takes a few seconds to safely strap a baby/toddler in their high chair, or put a baby in their crib or playpen... and KEEP the doors and windows locked. When my grandbaby visits our home, I wear the key to the backyard around my neck... so I know its locked. Also, I am aware of where he is EVERY single second while he is in my care. Thats all there is to it.

Susan Freyer
Susan Freyer

Don't you sleep? Ever? Children get out when parents and children are supposedly sleeping. It happens. But yeah. It's sooooooo simple.

David Stone
David Stone

Or maybe it's the shitty parents who are having too many kids? Jesus Christ, you fucking Arizona idiots make me sick.


were u with my cousin when this happened? what was her reaction? where was steven ( her Husband) or clifford? what did she say? i dont mean to bother you or bring up something unpleasent but i have heard it was no accident what happened to the boys. and i am trying to find out the truth

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