Background of Aquatic Risks and ISLA in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic (DR) has an incredibly high drowning rate due to social factors and dangerous ocean conditions present on the country’s coastline. Social factors and dangerous ocean conditions are the two principal causes of death at any beach in the world. Very few people in the DR know how to swim and an even smaller number of people have sufficient knowledge of the ocean, rip currents, waves, and other risks present at the beach. This factor mixes with a beach culture that utilizes very high amounts of alcohol to create an extremely dangerous reality on Dominican beaches. Separate from social causes, oceanic conditions create another crucial risk factor on the island.
Generally, the majority of the beaches in the Dominican Republic have very calm oceanic conditions. Although the coastal environment is normally tranquil, certain situations (usually a tropical storm far away from the island) have the potential to create huge hazards on the coast with large waves and very strong rip currents. Because these conditions are not present all the time, the majority of the Dominican population does not recognize the risks when they are present, and worse they do not do how to handle themselves in these dangerous aquatic situations. The lack of a professional presence that informs and educates about oceanic dangers is apparent in the many drownings are reported monthly in the country. The beach and social conditions that cause countless drownings in the country are completely manageable by people who have the proper training and equipment. The need for professional lifeguards in the DR is critical for preventing drowning injuries and death.
In 2011, the International Surf Lifesaving Association organized a Three-Stage Initiative as a means to prevent drowning in the DR. Since then, ISLA has continued to work toward the ultimate goal of reducing drowning rates and creating sustainable lifeguard programs and agencies in the DR.
The DR projects are a success through the amazing support from Gordon Gannon at Gran Cabana Cabarete, Laurel Eastman Kite School in Cabarete, Diego Geribaldi and Viva Wyndham Tangerine in Cabarete, Lee Alter and the International Law Enforcement Association in Cabarete, the La Romana-Bayahibe Hotel Association, the Huntington State Beach Lifeguard Association (HSBLA), and the Quiksilver Foundation.
Previous ISLA Projects in the DR
Spring 2013 | Junior Guard Camp and Lifeguarding in Cabarete
Fall 2012 | Third-Stage Initiative
Basic Open Water Trainings in Cabarete, Puerto Plata and Bayahibe, La Romana
For the Third State of the Three-Stage Initiative, ISLA conducted two Basic Open Water Lifeguard Training Courses. Thirty-six participants received the ISLA Basic Open Water Lifeguard Certificate. The next step is to establish permanent lifeguard agencies from the certified lifeguards and to add lifeguard coverage to beaches without rescue personnel.
Spring 2012 | Second-Stage Initiative
Easter (Semana Santa) Workshops and Volunteer Lifeguarding in Cabarete, Puerto Plata
As part of the Second Stage of the Three Stage Initiative, ISLA returned to the DR during Semana Santa, Easter. Semana Santa is one of the most dangerous seasons of the year, as it is known for the party scene with crowds upwards of 10,000. To help patrol the beaches, ISLA lifeguards worked alongside participants of the Fall 2011 training. And to continue the development of the DR lifeguards, ISLA reviewed training in beach and rapid water aquatic rescue, First Aid, and CPR.
Fall 2011 | First-Stage Initiative
Basic Open Water Training in Cabarete, Puerto Plata
ISLA Certification Becomes Required Lifeguard Certification In Dominican Republic
DR 2011 Project Report (English/Español) | DR 2011 Press Release
ISLA Lifeguards Featured in The Dominican Republic Press | ISLA Lifeguards Featured in El Caribe
Photo Album from the Training
The Fall 2011 trip marked ISLA’s first time in the DR. As part of the First-Stage of the Three-Stage Initiative, ISLA conducted a three day Basic Open Water Lifeguard Course for Rescue Personnel in the town of Cabarete. The trainings were offered to help reduce the high drowning rates and to help prevent drownings.
ISLA DR Project Coordinator
For information or questions regarding ISLA projects in the DR, please send a message to the Project Coordinator, William Koon: William.Koon@islasurf.org