Life Saving Assoc. Responds to Drowning News

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The St. Lucia Life Saving Association is once again saddened by the deaths by drowning of three of our citizens this past weekend as it is our aim to try and prevent such loss of life. The Executive and members of the St. Lucia Life Saving Association express sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims involved.

We understand the concern that this has generated and wish to make the public aware that training is on-going by this Association and we offer courses to both organizations and members of the public. Since its establishment in 1994, the Association has qualified personnel from the Royal St. Lucia Police Force, Marine Police, St. Lucia Fire Service, many of our leading hotels’ water-sports personnel, school teachers, swimming instructors and members of the public in both lifesaving and life-guarding. Most of these Organizations are now self-sufficient and have their own Lifesaving Instructors who train all new recruits, capable of swimming, in lifesaving techniques.

The St. Lucia Life Saving Association’s objective is to promote the safe participation in water related activities through education in all aspects of Water Safety, Personal Survival, Lifesaving, Life-guarding and First Aid.

This Association has lobbied arduously for lifeguards to be placed on public beaches and at public water related events. While the Association has received the support of various hotels on the island and worked with government departments in organizing development programmes there is still a long way to go. Our Association cannot do this alone. There has been collaboration in the past with N.E.M.O. and with the St. Lucian Bureau of Standards in formulating procedures and policies for safety on our beaches. These efforts, however, do not go far enough to making a profound impact on water safety on the island. Water safety is still not part of the school curriculum, lifeguards are scarcely found at public beaches and many organizers continue to promote activities at pools and beaches without lifeguard supervision.

Several of our leading hotels as well as the Police Force and Fire Service have qualified National Lifeguards who on their day-off lifeguard at events held in the vicinity of water when we have a request for lifeguard supervision. . Unfortunately we seldom hear the positives but many persons who have participated in our programmes have performed successful rescues the most recent being by members of Sandals Regency Resort going to the rescue of one of our own citizens.

Unfortunately, being a voluntary body, we do not have the finances to provide either full or parttime lifeguards on our beaches. We would encourage the authorities to make provision for lifeguards even if initially only to cover public holidays and weekends.

Although drowning statistics worldwide indicate that young males are most prone to injuries near the water as they are most likely to take risks, the statistics for St. Lucia do not reflect the same. This is due to a large percentage of the population being unable to swim. Needless to say, St. Lucia is a small island that is surrounded by water but yet a surprising number of young people who visit the beach are unable to swim. Tens of thousands of visitors are on our beaches and on boat tours each year and very few amenities or expertise exist to respond to an emergency should one happen.

Despite the efforts of the Association and its partners over the years, water safety and lifesaving activities remain largely unnoticed by the general public. Incidents like those that transpired over the past week should serve to remind us of the dangers that exist near water and the need for urgent action.

This Association calls on all relevant organizations in making a strong commitment to raising public awareness on water safety and to making the resources available for public safety at popular public beaches in particular.

The St. Lucia Life Saving Association will continue in the interim, to promote the ideals of water safety and to seek to train as many as possible in personal survival and rescue skills. We look forward to the day that swimming and water safety becomes an integral part of the school curriculum and that lifeguards are placed on a permanent basis on our beaches.

June 14, 2012

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