by Michron Robinson
While some people hold to the view that anything that’s free can’t be good, the National Conservation Commission is again showing it prefers to associate with the saying — the best things in life are free.
In fact, the “freeness” they are offering may very well save your life.
The commission this morning launched the 2013 edition of its Operation Save Our Selves swim programme at Browne’s Beach, St. Michael. I will run for seven weeks, culminating on August 30.
General Manager of the NCC, Keith Neblett, stated that their mission was to teach Barbadians both young and old how to swim because citizens must be competent and comfortable in water.
“You never know when you may be instrumental in saving the life of another individual,” Neblett said. “Prevention of accidents in and around the aquatic environment is 90 per cent of lifeguarding duty. Of course intervention is sometimes necessary, but we would like to see that at a very minimum,” he added. Neblett said they were looking as part of their on going programme to have a volunteer aspect to the lifeguard operations in the distant future.
“In another year or two we will be working towards that. For the last year we have been talking about that and we are going to put systems in place. We have a lot of persons who are retiring young and a lot of them still have the basic skills,” the NCC boss said.
“On weekends and so forth we have a core of people we know that would have to meet the basic standard of training because we would not like a person to say that we have given them the permission and then they go and affect a rescue and then we are forced into some litigation. We have to be still careful in terms of how things are being done.”
He added that every person who is brought on board as a partner in one of their programmes would have attain the standard they set for their full time the lifeguards. He however noted that they would remain unpaid, except perhaps for a stipend.
There are 98 lifeguards stationed around the island, along with eight supervisors, and the plan of the commission is to have at least five volunteers attached to each lifeguard.
“However, with financial constraints we will work with what we have and we have seen a significant reduction in the number of drownings, but we are still having a whole set of rescues. It is that the lifeguards are more vigilant these days, but you would have realised in the last three, four years that we have made it through the summer holidays without any drownings and we are hoping that we could have that this year,” he said.
Neblett said that annually a lot of prank calls were made to the lifeguards with the pretenders seeing it as fun. He wants sea-goers to discontinue that practice.