Saturday 25 January, 2020

Lifeguard raises alarm to 'get smart' after high number of drownings

With at least one drowning per month in recent months, Head of Department at Barbados Lifeguard Service at the National Conservation Commission (NCC) Dave Bascombe wants Barbadians and tourists to our shores to “get smart” around our beaches.

“Learn to swim and understand our environment, where we live – West Coast different to East Coast, South different to North. So you’ve got to know your area too.”

Furthermore, he added, “We are an island - 14 miles wide, 21 miles long, you are going to encounter water sometime. This is our pastime; beach is our pastime.

“We have ‘Da beach is mine’ syndrome – da beach is mine, I cuh bade anytime! If that is the case, then get smart around water.”

Speaking to Loop News in an interview today, Thursday, November 16, 2017, he cautioned persons against bathing at any time, and anywhere.

Bascombe said that lifeguards cannot supervise every beach in Barbados, but the high-traffic beaches, “we target those, we put towers and have lifeguard supervision.” Therefore he urged Bajans and tourists alike to utilise those supervised beaches.  

Recognising that there has been at least drowning every month from September to November with three persons losing their lives at sea last weekend alone between wee hours of Saturday morning and Sunday evening, Bascombe is calling on swimmers and seabathers not to underestimate the still or calm waters, and not to overestimate their diving and swimming abilities.

He said:

“Think of the old adage, still waters run deep. Don’t put yourself at risk, like in rough areas. If you can hardly swim in calm water, you can imagine what would happen with currents and riptides and waves down your mouth, up your nose, tossed around? And at night too, at night you can’t really see either. You don’t know up from down, in from out. So sometimes we put ourselves at risk. If you are in good physical condition also, you can last a little longer.”

Though lifeguards would like to have a 100 percent prevention of drowning record in Barbados, they know that is not probable and they want to reach at least a 90-percent prevention, 10-percent intervention ratio.

Bascombe reminded persons that unlike paramedics and fire officers, lifeguards do not get advance warning and calls to the scene.

He said:

“Lifeguards can’t stop all the drownings, because sometimes the circumstances are so extenuating, but our job really is to prevent drownings, as opposed to intervening.”

Bascombe leads the annual summer Save.Our.Selves (S.O.S) programme which is held during vacation for students of Class 3, Class 4 and above. He said that is reaping “success”, because on leaving, persons are “more knowledgeable” and mindful. He said, “They see the reality from the illusion and they are more less, water smart.”

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