Pool access gets lift

Andy Hsiao Chung, Staff Writer

Pitt-Johnstown’s Zamias Aquatic Center now has a hydraulic lift chair—an instrument allowing physically challenged people a more convenient means of getting in the center’s pool.

“We are required to put it in,” said lifeguard supervisor Dudley McNitt, “because the state requires we have a way for people who are disabled… to get in the pool. So the university paid for us to have the hydraulic lift chair put in.”

James Hedrick,  aquatic coordinator, provided documents and conditions to  specific regulations regarding the lift chair.

“Basically,” said Hedrick, “what it’s saying is that you need some means of accessibility to handicapped patients where they actually do it themselves. So we have these remote controls (for the hydraulic lift) so they can lower themselves into the water from the deck.”

Prior to the hydraulic lift chair being available, the only method physically challenged people could use was a flight of stairs, assembled in the shallow  end, with trained professional accompaniment.

“That was our method before,” said McNitt. “Now this (hydraulic lift) can do it by itself.

So, if the individual is confident enough to swim on their own, all we have to do is help them get in the chair, and, once they’re in the water, hopefully they can help themselves out or we can have someone there.”

McNitt also said there has not been anyone who needed the lift this semester.

“So far we haven’t had to use it, and cannot think of anyone now that could use it. But, in the past, we’ve had other people (who had) trouble getting in because they are disabled, and they did use our pool.”

“So, in the future I think it will be useful, just maybe not this year or the next.

But, in the future, I’m sure there will be a few individuals – from the community or students who will enjoy having that because it will make getting into the pool a lot easier.”