Living up to the Philippine Red Cross Headquarters aim to make the Boracay-Malay Chapter the main hub for lifeguard training, an Australian Red Cross Volunteer, David Field, has arrived to help train local lifeguards to international standards. Surf Lifesaving Development Officer David Field, a lifesaver with 32 years’ experience, came to the Philippines with the Australian Volunteers for International Development program, an Australian Government-AusAID initiative. He has been working with the Boracay-Malay chapter since November 2011 to bring lifeguarding techniques up to international standards.
The Local Government of Malay, through Mayor John Yap, Honorary Chairman of the PRC, provided 15 lifeguard facilitators to the PRC Boracay-Malay Chapter to be trained to Level 5 and serve as Lifeguard Instructors. Training sessions were endured for 6 months by the Red Cross Lifeguard Facilitators who were awarded a Level 3 certificate status after their lifesaving skills were assessed. This pertains to the world renowned training model that was revitalised last February to March 2012 by both the Philippine and Australian Red Cross, held on Boracay with the participation of 14 PRC Chapters around the country. They will now soon to qualify to Level 4, and subsequently to Level 5.
The Philippine Red Cross through its Boracay-Malay Chapter is committed to providing optimal Lifeguard Services, achieved by setting international standards through quality training, highly skilled staff and a system of ongoing review of operations for White Beach, then to Bulabog Beach and Puka Beach. The Red Cross Boracay-Malay Chapter closely coordinates with the Office of the Mayor, Human Resource Department and the LGU Lifeguard Supervisors’ Office on matters that affect and would improve the services to tourism and the local community of the world renowned island of Boracay.
The Red Cross Lifeguard Facilitators are introducing a method of Beach Management to augment the current services. Raising the red and yellow flags signifies a lifeguard on duty and a safe swimming area has been identified for swimmers; swimmers are encouraged to only swim in between the flags, and the flags usually are 100 meters apart on high visibility days. They arrive on duty early during the day and later during the afternoon to secure the beach for a 12 hour watch. The Red Cross Facilitators are trained instructors that will reach out to business establishment, barangay communities and school children, to extend the water safety as part of their activities.
With the 30% increase in the number of foreign and local tourists compared to the previous years’ statistics, the number of drowning and serious related incidents has increased. A recent entry from the one of the country’s newspapers says that there are no accredited lifeguards to patrol the coast of our Philippine beaches. It may be true in other areas, but not on Boracay Island. “More than two years after Republic Act No. 9993, or the “Philippine Coast Guard Act of 2009″, was signed into law, not a single lifeguard in the country has been certified by the PCG as required by the new PCG law. It also requires all beach resorts to provide the services of a sufficient number of lifeguards duly trained by PRC or other PCG-accredited organisations and certified by the PCG.”
With the Philippine Red Cross based on Boracay Island, the island can be a model for the country on how to manage beach safety; this island has the tremendous support of the stakeholders and the local government in employing lifeguards. A culture of lifeguarding began in 2004 and can be developed to an international standard.
The Philippine Red Cross, through Chairman Richard Gordon, have given their full support to Boracay through the donation of a Ford 4x4 Red Cross Ambulance for emergency response situations and recently the PRC had provided the island with 7 Rescue Boards from Australia.
To date, the Philippine Red Cross, through the Australian Red Cross, David Field, and the instructors from PRC have trained 15 Local Government Lifeguards that patrol White Beach, 20 Lifeguards of Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa, 2 from Patio Pacific, 2 from Nigi Nigi Nu Noos, Microtel, Red Coconut, Paradise Garden, Alta Vista, 7Stones, Fairways & Bluewater, Ariel’s Point and the Boracay Beach Club. To date, over 100 people have received lifeguard training (certificates) including the Philippine National Police-Boracay Tourist Assistance Center, the Bureau of Fire-Boracay Island Special Fire Protection Unit, the Philippine Coastguard Caticlan and Boracay Catchment have all participated in lifeguard training.
A recent swimming program has started for the younger generation to help them be better equipped in the water. The lessons promoted friendship among the different pupils, leadership skills, and most notable the honing of their lifesaving skills. Mayor John P Yap dedicated his time to witness the first batch of graduates among the 60 children from Balabag Elementary School, Manoc-Manoc Elementary School, Yapak Elementary School, Mt. of God Leaning Center, and the Mission of Love Integrated School.
Supporters of these activities are the Boracay Island Water Company, who have been providing safe drinking water; the Boracay Land Transportation Multipurpose Cooperative for support of transport; Boracay Eco Village Resort & Convention Center – a very suitable host for the training of Children’s Water Safety. The activities were lively due to the support of Nigi Nigi Nu Noos e Nu Nu Noos and Nigi Nigi Too, Ariel’s Point and the Boracay Beach Club, Willy’s Beach Club Hotel, Nami Private Villas, Microtel Hotels Boracay, and SPR Boracay Real Estate Inc,
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