‘Humbling’ African adventure for lifeguard

Vaughan Lawson carrying out training in Senegal. Picture: RNLI, Mike Lavis. Vaughan Lawson carrying out training in Senegal. Picture: RNLI, Mike Lavis.

Thursday, January 3, 2013
9:49 AM

North Devon and Bude RNLI lifeguard manager returns from a trip training the locals in Senegal.

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An RNLI lifeguard from North Devon has returned from a ‘rewarding and humbling’ trip helping to train lifeguards in Senegal to form their own dedicated lifesaving service.

Vaughan Lawson, RNLI lifeguard manager for North Devon and Bude, and his colleague Tim Doran from Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast have returned from Dakar in the African country, following two weeks training volunteer and full-time lifesavers.

The rigorous training has equipped the lifeguards with vital knowledge and skills to help save more lives from drowning.

“There is currently no lifeguard standard in Senegal so we were able to successfully train 25 lifeguards to the international lifeguard certificate level,” said Vaughan.

“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.”

Vaughan and Tim trained both lifeguards and members of the fire service, who will undertake regular beach patrols, and six instructors as specialists, who will teach lifesaving skills to others.

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, plus rescuing and treating a casualty.

“The lifeguards there are amongst the most highly motivated I’ve ever come across,” added Vaughan.

“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.”

RNLI lifeguard and lifeboat trainers have recently returned from Bangladesh, where they provided lifesaving training to 60 lifeguards, delivered search and rescue training to 58 Coast Guards and helped establish a new coastal safety education programme for schools.

The charity’s international development activity has included work with countries such as Cameroon, Uganda, India, Philippines, Mauritius, the British Virgin Islands and Thailand.

The RNLI is also working with international children’s charity Plan International to develop a pan-African swim-safe programme for children from 2013.

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