Lifeguards may be able to administer oxygen and better assist victims of near-drowning situations in the future.

Head of the Department of Lifeguard Services at the National Conservation Commission, Dave Bascombe, said efforts were currently under way to train lifeguards to the level of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) from this year.

He made these comments to the Barbados Government Information Service as 18 recruits prepare to start a 12-week training course which would qualify them to become lifeguards if they successfully complete each module.

Mr. Bascombe added that moving to EMT status would certify lifeguards to use oxygen as a frontline drug. "If there is a near-drowning, and the person is unconscious, oxygen helps to repair damaged cells and keep cells alive," he said. He added that the more care a lifeguard could give to a victim, the better that person’s chances were for survival.

Lifeguards posted at 17 of Barbados’ beaches are often called upon to respond to both land and sea emergencies, including heart attacks and accidents. Mr. Bascombe explained that there may be situations where a lifeguard may be required to administer oxygen, do a suction, or set up an intravenous line while in the field.

At present lifeguards are not allowed to administer oxygen as only those certified as EMTs are allowed to do so. However, Mr. Bascombe pointed out that consideration was being given to have lifeguards trained at the Barbados Community College in this discipline.

He explained that it was a process which would have to be undertaken over time, and noted that it would come as part of the continuous training which lifeguards are expected to undergo every two years.


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