A retired coast guard officer has launched a non-governmental organization, Life Saving Liberia in Monrovia which aims to prevent water related accidents and minimize the rate of drowning in the country.
According to the founder and executive director, Alfred S. Jones, the motto of his organization is “Help Us Save Lives”.
The organisation teaches awareness of the dangers of swimming on the various beaches, most are without lifeguards.
Mr Jones said drowning is an epidemic that kills, and that water safety education is the only defence against drowning.
He has meanwhile appealed for public support, stressing the need for medical resources to make save the beaches, and also to encourage the public to take advantage of their survival swimming and lifeguard training aimed at future lifesavers.
Lifesaving Liberia runs regular school-based swimming lessons
that were introduced to public and private schools for the 2017/2018 academic year in Montserrado County.
We are collaborating with the Liberian Coast Guard to launch a one week beach and water safety public awareness campaign at the beginning of the busy summer beach season .
The activities included:
Life Saving Liberia (LSL), a life-saving training program founded in 2010 by a team of retired Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Coast Guard officers, held its second graduation exercise for 22 trained lifesavers over the weekend.
Liberian Coast Guard Deputy Commandant addresses 2015 lifeguard graduates.
According to the LSL founder and Executive Director, Captain Alfred S. Jones the program was so successful for the first batch of graduates, who completed the program on 27th May 2015 that most of them are now employed in the management of various beach resorts as lifesavers and divers.
Lifesaving-Liberia Executive Director reminded the graduates of their services to humanity.
The graduates are now first aid trainers, lifesavers or survival swimmers. Upon their graduation, some of the lifesavers will be assigned to the 43 beaches in Monrovia and its environs, including the Sunset Beach in Marshall, Lower Margibi County; the Maggi Beach in Banjor, Hotel Africa Road, Virginia, outside Monrovia; Libbassa; and Eco Lodge.
The ceremony brought together the Commissioner of Boys Scouts Association of Liberia, Foster Toe Robertson, AFL Coast Guard Instructor Sheriff Boima and the Commander, Liberian Coast Guard, Cephas T. Gboe, among others.
The graduates underwent training that included diving using oxygen tanks, swimming, and snorkeling. Each of the graduates receives a lifeguard and search and rescue license to properly identify them as trained lifesavers or divers.
A few of the graduates, including Peter K. Weah and Exodus Gkornean, said that they have been well trained and are confident that they can save those distressed at sea.
"We are trained to the extent that we can swim in the high seas," Weah said.
Earlier, the guest speaker, Assistant Defense Minister for Coast Guard Affairs, Timothy B. Gbandoe, warned the graduates not to engage in acts that would misrepresent the good image of the LSL.
He called on the graduates to develop passion for their profession
rather than to seek for riches "because someone whose life is in danger at sea is not required (to make) payment."
With a coastline covering 350 nautical miles of the Atlantic Ocean showing beautiful beaches and lagoons from Grand Cape Mount to Maryland Counties, Liberia has an enormous potentials for tourists attraction and investment opportunities in the ecotourism sector that could enhance the government’s revenue generating capacity.
Unfortunately, most of these beaches and lagoons became dumpsites, public latrines and sand mining sites for the local people. Rivers are not respected. Children and youth drown on a daily basis. Yet the impact of drowning in Liberia has not been adequately felt or addressed on the national level. Drowning continues to take away the lives of users of our beaches and other waterways.
Recognizing the wrongful use of beaches, lagoons, other waterways, and the consistent drowning of people in our waters, the need for effective intervention with view to averting these problems were inevitable.
For this reason, a team of retired officers of the former Liberian National Coast Guard launched a nonprofit drowning prevention organization referred to as LIFESAVING-LIBERIA aimed at responding to aquatic emergencies, preventing risk associated with water-related activities and providing water safety education.
Despite the organizers’ avid advocacy to foster their cause and solicit support for water safety education, there has been less progress made due primarily to the fact that the sector needs more attention on the national government level.
The issue of drowning remains a challenge while the number of beach users and aquatic recreational facilities are rapidly increasing. Currently, there are fifty-seven unsafe aquatic facilities, operating in Monrovia and its environs with no lifeguard service or other measures put in place for the safety of users of these facilities except for some remedial LIFESAL program, which for now is barely adequate. The proliferation of these unsafe aquatic facilities is one of the major contributing factors for the high rate of drowning. The need for speedy intervention cannot be overemphasized and so is support for the work of Lifesaving-Liberia.
Alfred S. Jones
Lifesaving Liberia Inc.
Bong Mines Bridge, Monrovia, Liberia