Lifeguards conducting a simulation at Miami Beach in observance of World Oceans Day.????

The training, expertise and??response??capability??of??lifeguards??was??put to the test this morning, as they performed a daring marine/terrestrial rescue simulation at??the popular??Enterprise (Miami)??Beach in Christ Church in observance of World Oceans Day.

The men and women who risk their lives daily across the island’s beaches, sprang into action around 9:45 a.m. to perform a three-man rescue operation on two young men who got into difficulty while swimming. This was followed by a beach rescue of a female choking victim and a rescue of a young man with a shallow-water spinal injury.

According to General Manager of the National Conservation Commission (NCC), Keith Neblett, the simulation, which is staged annually in observance of World Ocean Day, is aimed at showcasing the lifeguards’ skills, as well as to "demonstrate what they have to go through on a daily basis to affect rescues and save lives.

"There is no value which you can place on a person’s life, and based on the training that our lifeguards go through on an annual basis, in terms of re-certification, we are the best in the Caribbean.??We are trained to the level of the Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada and, certainly, we have even offered training to some of the other Caribbean islands. So we have a well-equipped lifeguard service," he observed.

With approximately 90 lifeguards currently in the service, 10 percent of whom are female, Mr. Neblett said they could do with an additional 20 to 30 more lifeguards to meet the ideal minimum of four and the maximum of six lifeguards per station, to adequately deal with the range of emergencies which could occur.

"What you need to do is to have a minimum of four lifeguards per station. As you saw this morning, when we were dealing with someone who had a spinal injury, you could only have done that effectively with at least four lifeguards, otherwise you would just have aggravated the injury," he explained, adding that this compliment was necessary due to the dangerous presence of rip currents on many of the island’s beaches.

In terms of equipment, the General Manager underlined that all of the department’s annual requirements were sourced on request from Canada.

"They are never ever short of equipment because it is difficult to put a value on a person’s life and we do not take these things for granted. I would forego buying a lawn mower to maintain the streets and buy equipment for the lifeguards because really and truly you can live with some grass growing on the highway, but you can’t say the same about the loss of a person’s life."

Meanwhile, Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe, stressed that any steps to modernise the service would be handled with a sense of urgency.

Speaking about the unit’s importance and professionalism, as demonstrated via the simulation, Dr. Lowe said its upgrade needed to cover equipment and lifeguard stations as well as overall service.

"One of the things that we observe in the public service is that sometimes we invest a lot of money in training and because the service package is not a modern package, we lose our investment since a lot of staff receive training and then leave and go to other institutions," he lamented.

Minister Lowe said, despite the current economic climate, they were seeking to avert this practice by ensuring that all of the necessary amenities to keep the lifeguards in the service and happy about their work were provided.

"Because of the link between this service and tourism and the general safety of those persons who access the beach, I think this has to be mounted as a priority not only for the NCC, but a priority for the government itself," he opined.

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