Originator of the Distress vs. Drowning person classification.
Conducted the original research on the Instinctive Drowning Response.
Copyright author of the characteristics of an actively struggling drowning person.
Instituted the first lifeguard and water safety training program for
teaching drowning person recognition concepts in Australia, Canada, Europe,
and the United States.
40 years experience lecturing to federal, state, county, and local agencies on the causes and solutions to swimming, nonswimming, and boating related drowning fatalities.
21 years experience as a lifeguard and Chief lifeguard at Orchard Beach, Bronx, NY, where approximately 2,000 near drownings and rescues occurred each summer.
"Observations on the Drowning of Nonswimmers"
"Proposing a New Safety Collaboration"
"Reflections On Element #1 of Effective Surveillance: Water Crisis Recognition Training"
"Reflections on Lifeguard Surveillance Programs"
Lifeguard Effectiveness: A Report of the Working Group
Handbook on Drowning: Prevention, Rescue, and Treatment
2005 - Who's Who in Aquatic Leadership in the USA
2004 - Who's Who in Aquatic Leadership in the USA
2003 - American National Red Cross
2000 - American Red Cross in Westchester County, NY
Completed Research Projects
Originated the Distress vs Drowning person classification which is used by nearly all the major lifeguard training agencies in the Australia, Canada, Europe, United States, and New Zealand
Established drowning person recognition training as an area of study in lifeguarding and aquatics
Conceived the swimming rescue referenced in Alert II as the Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada - and formerly taught as the modified cross chest carry by the American Red Cross.
Conducted a two year research study into the causes of swimming related drowning fatalities in the United States from 1910 to 1980 in areas where lifeguards were on duty.
Developed the RID Factor for analyzing the causes of swimming related drowning fatalities.
Developed a childrens summer camp drowning protection system
Received American, and European patents for a rescue paddle board U.S. Patent # s 4,894,035 and 5,127,862
Articulated the difference between behavior and trait surveillance. Referenced the psycho-physiological contraindications for teaching pattern scanning surveillance techniques.
Audio-Visual Training Aids
Produced and directed the following training films:
On Drowning, 1970, a 13-minute lifeguard film which contains actual, not staged, film footage of 12 near drownings and rescues which range from single victims through a group of four.
Drowning: Facts & Myths, 1976, a 10 minute film
May 1969 - Sept. 1979
May 1964 - Sept. 1968
June, 1959 - Sept. 1963
Educational Background Summary:
In addition to his expertise in lifeguard training and drowning prevention, Dr. Pia has two master's degrees, an advanced 30 graduate credit clinical certificate in psychological testing and assessment. He has worked with academically "at risk" adolescents in urban and suburban settings from 1970 - 1998. During this time he was also a member of the New York City Board of Education's Citywide Crisis Prevention and Intervention team and Westchester County's Youth Gang Task Force.
Dr. Pia, a school psychologist, trained in the cognitive psychology/human information paradigm has for the past 37 years studied intensely the human visual system, vigilance paradigms, and human information processing. His understanding of the intersection of human performance theories and empirical research enabled him to explain to lifeguards, lifeguard instructors, lifeguard managers, and lifeguard training agencies how humans assign meaning to incoming visual stimuli. His continual learning about the conceptual underpinnings for analyzing perceptual decisions underlying detecting the absence or presence of certain distress and drowning behaviors, delineating short-term memory and working memory capacities and limitations of human attention, and the effects of physiological and psychological stress on human information processing continue to be his areas of academic interest.
Union Institute and University
As a midlife/midcareer adult, with significant varied life experience and advanced degrees, who was guided by principles of andragogy cited by Knowles (1980) and Cross (1981), and deeply influenced by the lifecycle perspectives of Levinson (1978), Bridges (1980), and Hudson (1991), Dr. Pia chose to enroll in the Union Institute and University's Ph.D. program in Interdisciplinary Studies. For several decades this regionally accredited and renowned educational institution developed higher education models based on the principles of mid-life adult learning and adaptations of the tutorial-based paradigms of British and German research universities. Union Institute and University (UIU) is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and has degree granting authorization from the Ohio Board of Regents.
The UIU's constructivist re-specialization adult education model required learners to develop a meticulous learning agreement. UIU doctoral students are not given academic credit for prior master's level work or life experience. The learning agreement contained detailed course descriptions, comprehensive educational goals and objectives, appropriate learning strategies, competency-based faculty assessments and suitable documentation, and substantial primary textbooks, bibliographies for all courses. Dr. Pia's studies blended independent study; online learning; individual faculty - learner mentoring and assessment; learner led instructional peer days; attendance at traditional lecture courses given by UIU faculty members; and off-site 40 hour seminars given by credentialed authorities and professors from other universities. This course of study totaled 116 semester credit hours. In 2004, Dr. Pia was granted a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in psychology, human factors, and public health.
Dr. Pia completed a 500 hour internship at SUNY-Westchester's Academic Support Center (ASC) where he designed a pilot research study utilizing instruments that measured the impact of environmental factors (hours worked and years away from school), internal factors (anxiety levels and college study behaviors) and the utilization of the Academic Support Center's services by part-time and full-time students. The results and recommendations from this research study were analyzed and discussed with the members of the ASC and were included in the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 SUNY Westchester's Strategic Planning Annual Reports.
Dr. Pia's quantitative doctoral dissertation assessed 2,226 urban, suburban, and rural middle and high school students' awareness of the physical energy transformation mechanisms that cause traumatic head and spinal cord injuries. He used cognitive psychology constructivist approaches to learning and schema belief modification research findings as the conceptual foundations for increasing the students' knowledge of head and spinal cord injury prevention behaviors in grades 7 through 12. Attention was directed to increasing adolescents' use of seatbelts, bicycle and skateboard helmets, and to decrease the incidence of head first diving into above ground backyard pools, lakes, and beaches. Dr. Pia developed treatment and control groups' instrumentation that assessed adolescents' perceptions of perceived susceptibility, likelihood, and severity for head and spinal cord injuries for the above cited activities.
American Psychological Association (APA) Membership
Upon a review of his doctoral studies, the APA approved his request for a change from associate to full association membership. The APA member category is reserved for individuals who have received a doctoral degree in psychology or a related field from a regionally accredited institution that provided confirmation of proficiency in psychological scholarship and verification of a qualitative psychological dissertation.
Bachelor of Arts: 1968
Master of Arts: 1973
Master of Science: 1976
Advanced Certificate: 1977
Doctor of Philosophy: 2004
School Psychologist: New York State Department of Education