Making beaches safer
by Julia Rawlins-Bentham
Lifeguards of the National Conservation Commission rescued 50 visitors experiencing difficulty while sea bathing last year.
In addition, they provided pre-hospital trauma care for two people, one of whom was a visitor involved in an accident along the Rockley Main Road in Christ Church.
Additionally, NCC rangers were praised for their vigilance during the last winter season, which resulted in six arrests of persons for offences ranging from possession of marijuana, bag snatching, possession of an offensive weapon, assault and using abusive language.
These are some of the achievements of the NCC lifeguards and rangers highlighted by Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, as he delivered the feature address at a ceremony held to honour and certify them at Hastings Rocks, Hastings, Christ Church yesterday.
“These two services, therefore, are of paramount importance to the commission, particularly as it relates to the achievement of its mandate to provide a safe environment for persons using our parks, beaches and open areas,” he said.
Lowe indicated that training for personnel in these two departments was high on the agenda, and noted NCC lifeguards were among the best qualified in the world, and regarded highly regionally and internationally.
He told those present that training for the Lifeguard Service was provided through the sharing and exchange of ideas and skills with the members of the Royal Life Saving Society Commonwealth, especially the Royal Saving Society of Canada.
In addition, recruitment training also exposes new lifeguards to areas such as emergency first aid, heart saving first aid, cardiac pulmonary resuscitation, fitness training foot drill and the mandatory assessment for the bronze medallion and bronze cross certification.
Lowe said the training continued in-service, as lifeguards were required to undergo annual training in CPR and automatic external defibrillation, and complete all components of the bronze cross requirements, according to the standards set by the Royal Life Saving Society of Canada.
However, while saving lives is important, the Minister pointed out that the Commission also had a role to play in maintaining law and order on the beaches.
To this end, the NCC rangers operating at beaches and parks across the island are also required to undergo constant training that includes exposure to the relevant legislation such as the NCC Act, court procedures, the presentation of evidence, environmental awareness and management and baton techniques.
As a result, 26 rangers participated in and completed a training programme designed to expose them to the use of force, self defence techniques, effective use of combat instruments and the disarming of armed subjects.
Lowe said it was also proposed that those rangers who excelled would be exposed to further training such as self-defence techniques, including karate.
“These … are of paramount importance to the commission, particularly as it relates to the achievement of its mandate to provide a safe environment for persons using our parks, beaches and open areas,” he said.
NCC Deputy General Manager, Michael Thompson, also stressed that the commission viewed training and retraining programmes as being very important in improving the skill sets of the two departments.
“This afternoon’s ceremony will give an indication of the emphasis which the commission has placed on those two departments’ development,” he said.
A total of six lifeguards completed training at the level of lifesaving instructor and are now qualified to assist with the instruction and supervision of junior staff.
Lifeguard, Dwayne Husbands was awarded for being Most Improved; Dorieann Patrick received the Best Drill Award; Jamaal Hinds, Iron Guard; Dario Hinds, Watermanship; while Corey Antrobus and Kemar Griffith tied for the Medic Award. Jamaal Hinds also copped the award for Best Recruit.
Meanwhile, 26 rangers officially received their batons which they are certified to carry for one year.