ISLA lifeguard Dean Fernandez in Cabarete, DR during Semana Santa
Dean doing a relay during ISLA’s training course.
Dean talks with a local volunteer.
I had a great time on the trip to the Dominican Republic (DR). I love lifeguarding in California, and after our experience on this trip I realized that there are many places in the world that need our help.
Other countries need lifeguards and supplies, but don’t have the capabilities or the resources. These countries struggle with a poor economy, and the citizens in these countries are often the ones that suffer. For example, most people in the DR don’t know how to swim and don’t understand how the ocean works or what the hazards are. This is why drowning is a major cause of death around the world.
Our team leader Will said it best, “drownings are not like car accidents. Drowning can be prevented and that’s why we are here.” We hope that through our training we can educate others on important lifesaving skills, and prevent drowning deaths.
The need for a lifeguard agency is there, and I would like to go back to the DR with ISLA and continue to work to create a permanent lifeguard system in Cabarete.
Lifeguarding during Semana Santa was an experience I will never forget. There were so many people and it was total chaos. We did our best to work with Defensa Civil and International Law and Security Association (ILASA) to cover as much water as we could, but with a crowd of over 10,000; we were severely understaffed.
I can say with a great deal of certainty that at least one water related death would have occurred if we had not been on duty. And that is why we do this.