A farewell to AIMS International

As I sit here pondering what to write in my final AIMS International column as its executive director, I reminisce about the challenges that AIMS International has overcome during the past four years.  

My tenure as executive director began in the spring of 2019 when Karen Oertley retired from the role and the AIMS Board of Directors selected me to be her successor. Karen was an organized leader and had done a wonderful job building AIMS International into a financially viable organization with a positive reputation.

I was given the mission of creating an online learning management system, while, at the same time, growing the annual safety seminar, as well as the other AIMS education and certification programs. This proved to be a daunting (and ultimately fortuitous) task.  

The 2020 AIMS International Safety Seminar, held in Galveston, Texas, was an unmitigated success. Despite concerns over the impact an online learning program would have on the organization’s annual safety seminar and other financial risks, we moved forward with AIMSConnectED, a platform devoted to providing world-class education to the amusement industry. It launched on April 4, 2020, just two weeks after the global COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. 

As the pandemic continued, it seemed that the 2021 safety seminar may have to be cancelled. By September, however, we started to think about a virtual event to take the place of the in-person seminar. Although we had no experience creating a live, virtual learning environment, we moved forward as if we knew what we were doing. The 2021 AIMS International Virtual Safety Seminar took place online in January of that year, with an incredible turnout of remote attendees, instructors and student moderators.

The 2022 Safety Seminar was planned and executed to a record number of attendees. New were education partners — International Ride Training and OABA — who coordinated the Aquatics, Operations and Carnival curriculum, respectively.  A brand-new Young Professionals program was also implemented, with several students acting as AIMS Ambassadors at the seminar. The new Academy of Amusement Risk Management, Safety and Security (AARMSS) was also launched.

The 2022 AIMS International Safety Seminar shattered the record-books with another all-time high number of attendees, instructors, sponsors and exhibitors. We also introduced two new education tracks: Adventure Attractions and the second year of AARMSS, which included a new AIMS certification. 

During this timeframe, we cultivated relationships with the Colombian Association of Parks and Attractions, the Pacific Northwest Exhibition, the State of Massachusetts Office of Public Safety Inspections, the State of California QSI Program, Lagoon Park and more. We created customized education and certification experiences through the AIMS On The Road educational outreach program.

With AIMS now in the capable hands of its new Executive Director Amy Briley-Lowenstein, I am proud of the accomplishments we’ve made. I want to thank the AIMS staff and board, education partners and sponsors, as well as the hundreds of students, volunteers and certificate-holders who make AIMS special. Moving forward, I’m joining the list of volunteer instructors at future AIMS Safety Seminars.

M.J. Brewer

This article appears in the MAY 2023 issue of Amusement Today.
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