I wanted to wait to write our final blog on our Costa Rican lifeguarding experience until we had come back to the states and got back into guarding our beaches here in the states so we could really get a grasp on the deference in operations and the needs of our friends down south.
After talking with Greg, we both could agree on one thing, how very lucky we are to not only have the resources we have but also the privilege to do what we love and get paid to do it!
When we first met with the Dominical lifeguards we gave them some equipment we had brought (all which had been donated from ISLA), new reds (a term referring to a guards work board shorts), uv protectant waterproof shirts, first aid equipment, and other lifeguarding essentials. As soon as we gave the guards new reds they put them on with smiles no matter if they fit or not. The gratitude the guards showed after receiving just new reds was humbling!
After working and speaking with the Dominical lifeguards a few things became abundantly clear, they need help in many ways! The guards themselves are extremely competent watermen. They are on the beach and in the water interacting with their community every day. They have a great foundation and passion for what they do, but…. They could use some help!
Help with establishing themselves as a professional organization, recognized by local and regional government bodies, training, ie; first aid, rescue techniques, public education, public relations, preventative actions, and a couple kick in the butt PT’s, help with equipment; uniforms, buoys, first aid equipment (until we gave them ours they had nothing, not even a band aid).
Costa Rica’s number one export is Coffee, but the real “money maker” for the country relays solely on tourism. Unfortunately they publicize their beautiful pristine beaches as a worldwide tourist destination, but don’t publicize the dangers that persist or the fact that drownings are a daily occurrence. I’ve seen firsthand, tourists being bagged and sent back to their respected country’s with nothing being done to help staff/train lifeguards to either put a stop or at least try and prevent future incidents from occurring.
I’m really hoping this trip opens the door for not only Dominical lifeguards but also guards throughout Costa Rica. We need to bring attention and awareness to what is huge (preventable) problem : drownings!
It is of my opinion that, change can and will happen. I really look forward to future opportunities Lifesaving in Costa Rica ! Pura Vida! -Noah Sinclair, ISLA volunteer lifeguard