The national lifeguard complement is set to get a boost if the 18 recruits presently undergoing training are successful.
In an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Head of the Department of Lifeguard Services at the National Conservation Commission, Dave Bascombe, explained the successful completion of the training programme was essential, as any recruit failing a module would also fail the entire course.
He made these comments as the 18 recruits prepared for a week of medicals and interviews having successfully completed their swim test.
Mr. Bascombe explained that Barbados’ lifeguard training programme was internationally based and affiliated with the Royal Lifesaving Society of the Commonwealth. He noted that all those interested in becoming a lifeguard must be between the ages of 18 and 28 and have two Caribbean Examinations Council certificates or the equivalent. They must also be good swimmers and pass the required medicals and physical swimming test before beginning training, he added.
Once this phase had been completed successfully, Mr. Bascombe explained the recruits would then be interviewed by a panel before entering the 12-week training programme. He said this would involve the recruits being trained in search and rescue, drowning prevention, intervention, boat rescue, the aquatic environment, advising and educating swimmers, responding to land emergencies and foot drills.
"The purpose of the drill is to produce lifeguards who are disciplined, and it also forms the basis of team work. Lifeguarding is team work," the Lifeguard Instructor emphasised.
He added that lifeguards were also trained and certified by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados in cardiac pulmonary resuscitation, emergency cardiac care and basic life support involving the use of an automated external defibrillator used to shock the heart.
However, he stressed that the process of becoming a lifeguard not only involved recruits being engaged in saving people’s lives, but it comprised about 90 per cent prevention and 10 per cent intervention.
As a result, he noted that lifeguards were also trained in public education as a part of the programme. "You are taught how to speak, advise and interact with people, and know your environment and locale," he said. Mr. Bascombe added that some lifeguards also spoke a foreign language which further assisted them in helping visitors whose mother tongue was not English.
"If I was a Spanish-speaking person and found myself in distress, I would automatically refer to speaking in my native tongue. [So] that is a way of having our lifeguards trained in the area of foreign languages," he said.
Beaches supervised by lifeguards are: Crane Beach, Enterprise Beach (Miami Beach), Maxwell Beach (Graveyard Beach), Dover Beach, Rockley Beach, Needham’s Point, Graves Inn Beach (Pebbles), Brownes Beach, Brandons Beach, Batts Rock, Holetown; Folkestone, Royal Pavilion (Alleyne’s Beach area), Heywoods, Bathsheba and Bath.