Bude lifeguard returns from training in Senegal

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By Em_Williams | Monday, December 31, 2012, 11:17

RNLI Lifeguard Manager for North Devon and Bude, Vaughan Lawson, has returned from a 'rewarding and humbling' trip helping train lifeguards in Senegal to form their own dedicated lifesaving service.

Vaughan and his colleague Tim Doran from Northern Ireland's Causeway Coast have returned from the country's capital, Dakar, following two weeks training Senegalese volunteer and full-time lifesavers. The rigorous training has equipped the lifeguards with vital knowledge and skills to help save more lives from drowning.

During the two weeks, Vaughan and Tim trained 25 volunteer and full-time lifeguards and members of the fire service, who will undertake regular beach patrols, and six instructors as specialists, who will, in turn, teach lifesaving skills to others to help establish a long-term, sustainable lifesaving service.

The course covered the important first steps of lifeguarding, including recognising when a person is in distress; how to use rescue equipment; beach surveillance; risk assessments, and rescuing and treating a casualty.

Vaughan said: "There is currently no lifeguard standard in Senegal so we were able to successfully train 25 lifeguards to the international lifeguard certificate level. We then trained six of the lifeguards as dedicated trainers with the aim that they'll be able to coach their own lifeguards to a consistent standard and create a sustainable lifeguard service.

"The Senegalese lifeguards work in very difficult conditions with very little equipment, sharing one whistle between four across a one kilometre stretch of beach. It was a real eye-opener to see how their lifeguard service is set up and made me realise how fortunate we are in the UK to have access to specialist equipment, which is vital for saving lives."

He added: "The lifeguards there are amongst the most highly motivated I've ever come across, they're very hardworking and diligent. It was a very rewarding and humbling experience and a very worthwhile feeling that we've been able to help."

The RNLI has been stepping-up its international development work since 2011, to help developing search and rescue-related organisations and reduce the estimated 1.2 million drownings that occur around the world each year.

The charity is focusing on helping other organisations to help themselves by providing a range of services such as training, supply of equipment, safety education, and guidance on search and rescue frameworks and flood resilience.

The RNLI is also exploring a collaboration with international children's charity Plan International to develop a pan-African swim-safe programme for children, teaching ocean and flood survival skills, beginning in 2013.



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