AIMS, IRT, NAARSO annual safety seminars are on tap for 2023
AT: Pam Sherborne
UNITED STATES — January begins the amusement industry safety seminars. Following are previews of the first three.
The 2023 AIMS International Safety Seminar will be at capacity when it kicks off its event on Jan. 8, at the Galveston Convention Center, Galveston, Texas. The seminar runs through Jan. 13.
Registration reached 500, capacity, last month. There will be 125 instructors, 348 educational courses, 440 hours of content and 47 sponsors, 44 of which will be exhibiting at the seminar.
"I didn’t anticipate that we would hit our capacity, although we were within 50 students of our maximum student capacity last year, so I guess I should have," said Mary Jane Brewer, AIMS International Executive Director.
AIMS offers certification levels in maintenance, operations, inspector and aquatics. Attendees build their own schedule, choosing to best suit their needs and desired outcome. Brewer feels there are a number of reasons for the increase, the first being the variety of courses and quality of the educational experience.
"AIMS is fortunate to have the best group of volunteer instructors and subject matter experts available in the amusement industry," Brewer said. "Each year we solicit new and updated course proposals from new and returning instructors and strive to offer the most relevant and up-to-date content possible," she said.
According to Brewer, the AIMS staff and board members "work diligently to provide an opportunity for our students to not only experiment quality classroom education, but to have adequate time during social events, such as the daily happy hours, to networking and learn from their peers and other industry experts."
"Another reason for the success of our seminar is our education partners," she said. "Ellis & Associates (aquatics), International Ride Training (operations) and the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (traveling shows) offer specialized expertise and access to instructors and students that we may not have otherwise been able to reach."
These companies coordinate the curriculum, curate the courses and find the subject matter experts to teach in their respective specialized tracks. Additionally, Brewer said, seminar planners make a great effort to pay attention to industry trends, safety issues and general education needs of the industry and have added new specialized tracks to address those needs.
Last year AIMS introduced the Academy of Amusement Risk Management, Safety and Security (AARMSS) for people working in safety and security management roles in parks.
"We had a full class last year and are on track to do so again in our second year," Brewer said.
There is a new Certified Risk Management, Safety and Security Associate certification, which is being introduced this year and the second-year AARMSS students will sit for the exam at the end of the week in Galveston.
To address the needs of the growing adventure attractions segment of the amusement industry, AIMS created a new Adventure Attractions Track that will debut in 2023.
"We created a committee comprised of experts in the areas of indoor and outdoor adventure attractions and they have worked for a full year to tailor a course of study for this group of operators," Brewer said.
Examples of the Adventure Attractions Track agenda includes: Fundamentals of Operator and Attendant Safety; Building an Adventure Attraction Safety Program; Patron Education, Communication and Denying Entry; Maintenance Program Requirements; Inspection Program Requirements; Communicating Your Adventure Attraction Safety Program; Hayrides/Trams/Trackless Trains and Bumper Boats/Go Karts; Trampoline Park Inspection Course and a Hands-On Day at Urban Air Park in Houston, Texas, just north of Galveston.
In addition to the new Adventure Attractions Track, AIMS seminar planners also added a new eight-hour Introduction to Crowd Science course taught by G. Keith Still. Still, a professor, holds a PhD in Crowd Dynamics and has developed and delivered training materials around the world for over 30 years.
Still and the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) partnered in March 2021 to bring this body of work to the United States. The purpose of the courses is to develop greater awareness of how individuals and crowds react and behave in places of public assembly.
The course explores the application of crowd safety and risk analysis techniques to enhance public safety.
Returning for a third year will be the Spanish-language Track, where Spanish-speaking safety professionals from Spain, Mexico and throughout Latin America can gather to listen to safety experts deliver, in their native language, the most current and relevant safety education available in the amusement industry today.
Level I and Level II Spanish-language certification exams are also available at the seminar for those interested in earning an AIMS International Certification in 2023.
The keynote address in 2023 will be presented by 30-year industry veteran Erik Beard. Beard is the managing member and general counsel of IRT. He began his career in the ride operations department at Cedar Fair Entertainment’s Cedar Point and Worlds of Fun in 1992 where he spent six years as manager of ride operations and park services.
Beard also worked on the pre-opening operations team at Universal's Islands of Adventure where he had direct responsibility for the development of operating procedures for the Lost Continent and Jurassic Park islands and guided numerous attractions through construction, commissioning, and pre-opening training and testing.
Beard joined Patty Beazley and Cindee Huddy at IRT several years ago. IRT offers a variety of services including being a full-service provider of training and standard operation procedure development and operational consulting for owners/operators of amusement rides and devices and water slides.
IRT also presents the International Ride Operator Certification (iROC) training program entitled Ride Camp Safety School. The 2023 program is set to take place Feb. 5-9 at Carowinds located in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Ride Camp is defined as a "train the trainer" program. There are CEU awarded credits for instructor, trainer and operator levels.
Huddy said the theme for the 2023 Ride Camp Safety School is all about Super Hero's "because we know that ride operators' super power is safety and service"
"We are excited because this year we are offering tracks for Level I for first time attendees, Level II for middle operations management and Level III for the leadership attendees," Huddy said.
There is an action-packed week planned for the International Ride Operator Certification, which includes client only sessions.
"In addition, we have educational sessions that are open to those not receiving the iROC certification," Huddy said. "We hope all those in operational leadership will join us to enhance their super powers."
Some educational sessions in 2023 include ADA 101 for operators, assertiveness skills and practice for leaders, guest service enhancements at the ride, efficiency improvements, train the trainer tips and techniques, aquatic operator procedure practice and many more.
"We serve any business with rides and/or attractions," she said. "We are gearing up for record attendance with over 45 parks in 2023."
Guest speakers at the IRT event this year are: Shaun McKeogh, the chief training officer of Pro Fun Academy, which teaches sessions on Impact of Company Culture on Staffing, Enhancing Engagement at rides and much more.
Another guest speaker is Johnnie Williams III, who has become professionally known as the Encouragement. He is teaching several sessions on some of the best ways to coach operator's teams.
NAARSO will present its 36th Annual Safety Seminar, Jan. 29-Feb. 3, 2023, at the Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The veteran seminar offers course programming and examinations for the following certifications: Limited Specialty; Inspection Certification Level I (basic), Level II (advanced) and Level III (sr); Operations Certification, Level I, Level II and Level III; Operations Certification, Level I, Level II and Level III and Aquatic Operations, Level I.
The first day of the event, Jan. 29, will be full of logistical activities such as registration, membership meetings and seminar orientation.
The seminar Welcome Reception is set for this evening.
Courses begin the next morning and run the remainder of the week. Course topics include: math knowledge; OSHA; wire rope inspections; hydraulics; pneumatics; generators; electric; legal aspects; braking systems; amusement ride chains; acceleromater; rigging; ASTM standards; bearings; ARC flash safety and dark ride and walk -through inspections.
Others include best practices for incident response and investigations; corrosion analyzing; inflatables; communication skills; accessibility; water slide and features; aquatic ASTM; water quality; aquatic inflatables and much more.