The recent retrenchment of lifeguards appears to be affecting the operations of those still on the job and this has led the Barbados Lifeguard Association sending out an SOS to tourism authorities in the island.
President Ezra Clarke said the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA), the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) and others need to be heard on the issue in light of the potential danger at beaches.
“I want to call out the people who pushed us as the flagship of tourism on the beach like the BHTA, BTI [Barbados Tourism Investment Inc.] and BTA, who always say that we are the meet-and-greet people on the beach. I wonder if they’re just worrying about the bottom line as far as the money is concerned and not the safety of the tourists,” he said.
Around 100 lifeguards were previously employed by the National Conservation Commission but Clarke said that approximately 60 remain on the job following the recent retrenchment exercise.
He explained that some lifeguards are now operating without any backup and this places both their lives and those they seek to protect at risk.
According to the association’s president, the situation has left lifeguards feeling demoralised and insulted.
“A lot of the youngsters have gone. We have guys over 40, over 50 and a couple guys who are over 60 but we need the back up of the youngsters who were just sent home,” he said, adding that they are employed on contract.
“One person at a tower is a lifesaver; we’re trained to know that. But right now if that person does a rescue it means that when he looks around for help he is in trouble so you have from one victim to two needing help.”