RLSB was set up a year ago, have there been any achievements to report so far? Over the past year, RLSB has been developing our Water Safety Strategy, we consulted with a wide variety of parties to ensure we were able to understand the local challenges we face.
Are there any figures for drowning deaths in Bahrain?
A drowning report was published by the Ministry of Health in 2015, analysing data from 2003 to 2015. The report showed that, on average, 16 lives are lost to drowning each year in Bahrain. The report for 2016 has yet to be published, however we are aware of 10 lives lost to drowning since January of this year.
In most circumstances, drowning is preventable. The prevention starts with us learning basic swimming skills and how to be safe in the water. These are skills for life that everyone should learn. RLSB will introduce innovative programmes for learning basic swimming and water safety skills. We will also undertake a project to determine the swimming competence of our people in Bahrain. We will then advocate and work with key stakeholders to ensure a focus on learning basic swimming and water safety.
In the coming months, we will be launching our Open Water Learning Experience at several beaches, to give children from schools, clubs and the community the opportunity to learn personal survival skills and become everyday life savers.
What made each of you decide to get involved with RLSB?
Sameera – I was looking for a new opportunity that involved sports in some way and joining RLSB seemed like the ideal job. Being a swimmer since a very young age, this sport has given me so much and I’m determined to use the power of this sport to help as many people as I can. I hope through our work at RLSB we are able to get more children (and adults) to learn how to swim and hopefully reduce the number of drowning deaths and injuries.
Sam – My first job was working part-time as a Lifeguard at my local pool in London at the age of 16. There was something special about having the knowledge and skills necessary to save a person’s life, and this quickly developed into a passion for life saving. I trained to become a lifeguard and first aid instructor at the age of 18, and I have been working in water safety and training for the past 15 years. I moved to Bahrain almost two years ago and, when I heard about the development of Royal Life Saving Bahrain and the Water Safety Strategy, I knew it was something I wanted to be involved with. I hope we can work with government, industry and our communities to save more lives, and, as Sameera mentioned, significantly reduce the number of drownings here in Bahrain.
When will activities start to take place and what is the initial order of priority?
We have just finished our first pool lifeguard course, and we have our first beach lifeguard course taking place at the start of November. In addition, we have several first aid courses over the coming months. We need to work with hotels, water parks and other pool and beach operators to ensure that all lifeguards employed in Bahrain are trained to a consistent international standard. We are also working closely with the Drowning Prevention Committee and the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority (BTEA) to develop safety guidelines for all swimming pools in Bahrain.
Are there plans for swimming to be taught much more widely?
One of our five main strategies is to teach people foundation skills for swimming and water safety. These skills are taught in 12 one-hour lessons that will be available for both children and adults.
Is it likely that water safety advice will be turned into legislation?
We hope that over time, the safety guidelines will become mandatory and governed by law. The BTEA has already changed the requirements for the renewal of hotel and water sports company registrations, and now requires that all lifeguards hold a current Royal Life Saving Bahrain lifeguard certificate.
To get more information, please visit www.rlsbahrain.org.