RNLI lifeguards deliver lifesaving training to help tackle major drowning problem in Bangladesh


Bangladeshi volunteers at a lifesaving club (Credit RNLI)

Date: 28/02/2012

Author: Laura Fennimore, Public Relations Officer

Lifeguard trainers from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) are travelling to Bangladesh on Saturday 3 March to deliver much-needed training to volunteers at country’s first lifesaving club.

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Bangladesh has one of the highest drowning rates in the world, with drowning being the lead killer of children aged 1–17, claiming around 18,000 lives a year (more than infectious disease or malnutrition*). The International Drowning Research Centre (IDRC) in Bangladesh, which is striving to reduce the country’s vast drowning rate, asked the RNLI to help develop the lifesaving club and training centre in Cox’s Bazar, one of the most popular beach areas in Bangladesh.

RNLI lifeguard trainers Darren Williams, from Wales, and Scott Davidson, from Norfolk, will travel to Cox’s Bazar, in the south of the country, to spend a week delivering a comprehensive programme of lifeguard training to around 15 Bangladeshi volunteers from the local lifesaving club, including the first female lifeguard in Bangladesh.

For five days they will cover crucial first steps of lifeguard training, including personal fitness; beach surveillance; risk assessments; recognising when a person is in distress; understanding rescue equipment; the effect of wind, waves and currents; reaching, retrieving, assessing and treating a casualty. For the final two days, they will also deliver a ‘train the trainer’ course, enabling the volunteers to teach the skills they learn to others.

The Bangladeshi volunteers currently have no formal training in how to carry out a rescue so Darren and Scott’s expertise, developed during years of lifeguarding with the RNLI, will be greatly welcomed.

Steve Wills, the RNLI’s International Development Manager, says:

‘The drowning problem in Bangladesh is huge, particularly among children. The RNLI has years of expertise in saving lives at sea and through our international development work we are aiming to share our knowledge with countries like Bangladesh, to help prevent more lives being tragically lost to drowning.

‘Cox’s Bazar is a very popular beach and the volunteers at the lifesaving club have been doing their best with what little training and equipment they have. The programme two experienced RNLI lifeguard trainers can deliver in just seven days should make a world of difference, equipping these volunteers with vital knowledge and skills to carry out rescues and save more lives. We’re focusing on helping others to help themselves – by providing this training, we’re equipping them the skills to develop their own lifesaving service.

‘The people I’ve met in Bangladesh have a real sense of community and an absolute determination to reduce the massive drowning rates. I truly hope the programme the RNLI is delivering can start to save lives immediately.’

As well as providing lifeguard training, the RNLI is also working separately with the Bangladesh Coastguard, to provide guidance on developing its search and rescue infrastructure.

The RNLI has been stepping-up its international development work since 2011, to help developing search and rescue-related organisations and reduce the estimated 1.2M 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.

* Data from International Drowning Research Centre Bangladesh.

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