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Date: April 29, 2015


BOULDER CITY, Nevada –More than 30 Lake Mead National Recreation Area supervisors re-emphasized their commitment to employee safety April 28 by participating in the Operational Leadership for Supervisors course.

The new eight-hour National Park Service training teaches leaders that Operational Leadership is more than a program. It is a culture.

"If you're not vigilant and you become complacent, you lose that culture," said Prashant Lotwala, the course instructor.

Lotwala is a former Lake Mead NRA supervisory ranger who helped develop the originalOperationalLeadership program in 2007. He, Brandon Marsmaker and other former staff at Lake Mead NRA helped revise theOperationalRisk Management and U.S. Coast Guard Team Coordination Training programs by creating materials that were relevant to the park service.

Park management requires every employee, including seasonals, to attend the 16-hour training.

During Lotwala's return visit to the park, he trained five Lake Mead NRAOperationalLeadership facilitators to becomeOperationalLeadership for Supervisor facilitators, so local training may continue. The park's facilitators are Marsmaker, David Hughey, Chris Raynolds, Todd Bates and Janel Brackin.

April 28, those facilitators, along with Lotwala, taught park leaders how to implement an effective safety culture by developing anOperationalLeadership Implementation Plan.

He told the supervisors that safety shouldn't be identified as a priority because priorities change. Instead, he said safety should be "our way of life," adding that it should be "our culture, our way of doing business."

Through very open dialogue, the leaders agreed, but expressed that any new plan or system, must be realistic, sustainable and effective.

"OurOperationalLeadership Implementation Plan must be doable," said Adam Kelsey, chief ranger. "We need to find out the barriers our staff face and develop this plan using ground-up principles,"

The supervisors designated Marsmaker as the team lead for the new plan. Over the next few months, he will work with employees throughout the park to propose a strategy that can be implemented at all levels effectively in every division.

"It's important for employees from GS-1 to SES to have the tools to implement this at their levels," said Kelsey. "It's important to have an effective safety culture, not just a safety program."

The group also agreed that anOperationalLeadership component should be added to all Employee Performance and Appraisal Plans and Individual Development Plans. This will empower employees to use critical thinking in daily risk management decisions and encourage them to embrace safety as part of their professional identities.

Meeting A Call to Action #32 "Play it Safe" and making safety a way of life for the National Park Service's second century is one of many centennial initiatives Lake Mead NRA is implementing.

With this continued focus on safety, park staff are bracing for the 3.5 million visitors they expect to see this summer, so they can help millions more find their park.


Last updated: April 30, 2015

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