Keynote Presenters

This year, we were thrilled for the opportunity to have international speakers at Ripple Effects, including Dr. Francesco Pia, creator of the Pia Carry, and Dr. Robert Keig Stallman, professor at the Norwegian School of Sport Science —  both are well known internationally for their training and research in drowning prevention.

Dr. Francesco Pia, kicked-off Ripple Effects with his Opening Keynote address, focussing on strategies to train lifeguards to detect drowning people's struggles, and ways to avoid inattentional blindness.

Dr. Robert Keig Stallman ended the day with a reflection on the philosophy of aquatic professionalism, and ways of contributing to a culture of water safety.

Dr. Francesco "Frank" A. Pia

Opening Keynote  |  8:45 — 9:45 am

Human Information Processing — A New Approach

Presented by Dr. Francesco A. Pia

Dr. Pia will clarify how he trains lifeguards to use human information processing to quickly detect drowning people’s struggle. He will identify the scientific basis for saccade sweep scanning that rests on perception, attention, working and long term memory storage. This technique helps lifeguards avoid in-attentional blindness. Finally he will discuss how stress inoculation and stress exposure training helps lifeguards to manage their physiological and psychological stress responses during emergency scenarios.

Keynote Frank Pia

Francesco “Frank” Pia, a school psychologist, has a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on psychology, human factors and public health. He has 21 years of experience as a lifeguard, lieutenant lifeguard, and chief lifeguard at Orchard Beach, Bronx, NY. He conducted the original research on the Instinctive Drowning Response, developed the drowning person vs. distressed swimmer categorical classification, and formulated the RID Factor for analyzing the causes of swimming related drowning fatalities. A former member of the American Red Cross’ Advisory Council for First-Aid, Aquatics, Safety and Preparedness and the Scientific Advisory Council (SAC), he authored and published peer reviewed articles, served as a technical advisor, instructor, and instructor trainer for the American Red Cross’ lifeguard and lifeguard manager programs, and was a member of the US Lifeguard Standards Coalition, and the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code bather’s supervision subcommittee. He is also a recipient of the American Red Cross’ SAC emeritus lifetime achievement award.



Dr. Robert Keig Stallman

Closing Keynote  |  4 — 5 pm

Aquatics —Career or Passing Fancy?

Presented by Dr. Robert Keig Stallman

Aquatics is a broad and varied area. It includes many activities but all have several common elements, among which is the need for safety. Thus, each activity has the potential and the responsibility to contribute to the common pool of knowledge. We can make water safety a way of life and we can help others do the same. Aquatic professionals are key persons in any community and a professional approach can help to reduce the risk of drowning – a global leading killer



Dr. Robert Keig Stallman has participated in, taught, and coached in six to eight different aquatic activities. He has been active in officiating, program design and planning, writing and research. He has been active in a dozen or more national organizations in six different countries on three continents. He has also been the aquatic coordinator in two different cities and at four different universities. He is currently involved primarily in writing and research, though officially retired.