Trusting the Process

Thank you for your continued diligence in keeping your communities healthy and safe during this crisis. This pandemic has reaffirmed Virgil’s saying that the greatest wealth is health.

An old sports adage says that each player should trust the process so that the team will achieve a successful outcome. For this virus, each of us needs to engage in the process of following the best practices to achieve the successful outcome of protecting public health.

For any given situation, the process must be communicated effectively and understood by each player. All successful coaches are known for being good communicators. The SDPAA assists you in being a successful coach by providing abundant training resources to educate your fellow employees on the proper process for any given situation. Each year, thousands of public employees in South Dakota receive countless hours of safety training thanks to our loss control vendor, Safety Benefits, Inc. (SBI). All of this training is included as part of your membership in the SDPAA. For anyone who still has private insurance, does your insurer provide this benefit as part of your insurance?

In this latest crisis, the SDPAA had ample information to share and we tried to communicate it appropriately so that its sheer volume did not unintentionally diminish its importance. If you have any suggestions on the communications you have received by the SDPAA, please let us know.

The guidance on any specific virus issue changes on a daily basis, so it is a challenge to publish something that would still be timely a few weeks later. To instantly deliver vital information to our Members, the SDPAA has been sending regular email “blasts” to Members to provide the latest guidance on a variety of issues related to the virus. If you are the SDPAA representative for your organization, please ensure that those emails are forwarded to all the interested people within your organization.

The enhanced sanitation protocols required by COVID-19 have created new challenges for local governments, including the possible reopening of public swimming pools and other public outdoor recreational areas. The CDC had reported that no evidence suggested that the virus can be spread to people through the water in swimming pools. Last month SDPAA Members received a timely Fact Sheet on these issues from SBI. Another Fact Sheet will be issued following an anticipated CDC update. If you are not a SDPAA Member, then you are reading this article perhaps too late for your entity to effectively plan for this summer’s swimming pool season.

The SBI Fact Sheet discussed how operating swimming pools creates new challenges with social distancing, especially for enforcement by lifeguards and other pool staff. The facility’s capacity will need to be recalculated to accommodate social distancing. Any locker rooms or showers will need to be disinfected properly. Concession stands will be difficult to operate, if not impracticable in this virus climate. Proper operation and maintenance of swimming pools should inactivate the virus in water, according to the CDC. As of the issuance of that SBI Fact Sheet, the CDC recommended against public use of hot tubs, spas, water parks, and playgrounds. SBI also discussed how public restrooms should be closely managed. Many other helpful hints were discussed related to messaging and signage. The SDPAA and its vendor SBI can help you stay current to best protect public health in your community.

The SBI Fact Sheet also relayed that the CDC recommended against organized activities and sports in particular. While the virus may have caused the cancellation of many activities, it also provided an opportunity to look at those activities through the lens of risk management/loss control. Public facilities are used by many participants. Are you having each participant and/or their parent/guardian sign an appropriate liability waiver for such activity each season? Have you updated all the routine maintenance at each of those facilities? This year of many cancelled activities afforded additional time to complete those longer-lasting projects that would otherwise disrupt those activities. For any special events usually held during the warmer months, do you need additional coverage? If you have any questions or need any assistance, please contact the SDPAA at 800-658-3633 option 2 or by email at

It is sometimes difficult to see the forest for the trees while engaging in the process of risk management/loss control activities. Please remember that we all know someone who was saved from severe injury by following a safety protocol. A safety process may take more time and investment, but it helps achieve the successful team outcome of saving people from harm.

Virgil also said: “Come what may, all bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance.” By having the endurance to sustain our trust in “the process” we should be able to conquer any bad fortune, including the unique COVID-19 issues for public swimming pools and other outdoor recreational activities. Thank you again for being such great public stewards in your communities.

Stay safe and healthy!

David Pfeifle
Executive Director

Hyde County has been a Member of the SDPAA since 2003. We are very happy with the services provided to our County. Member Services and the Underwriting Department have been quick to respond whether it was a claim or questions. They are very easy to work with and have always followed up on any issues we have had.
South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance
208 Island Drive
Ft. Pierre, SD 57532