A lifeguard from North Devon is preparing to go to Africa to help develop its first lifeguard service.
Vaughan Lawson, who lifeguards in the Torridge and Bude areas, is set to depart Devon for Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, on Saturday.
He will be joined by fellow lifeguard Tim Doran, from Ireland, and together they will deliver two weeks of rigorous training to 24 Senegalese volunteer and full-time lifeguards and firefighters.
During the two weeks, they will teach the important first steps of lifeguarding, including recognising when a person is in distress; how to use rescue equipment; beach surveillance; risk assessments, and rescuing and treating a casualty.
Lifeguard manager Lawson said: “Drowning is, very sadly, a common occurrence in Senegal. Earlier this year, nine boys drowned off the coast of Dakar. They had been playing in the water when a current took them. There were no lifeguards around to save them. During this visit to Senegal, we’re aiming to teach volunteers vital skills to help them set up, run and expand an effective lifesaving service and, ultimately, save more lives from drowning.”
Steve Wills, the RNLI’s International Development Manager, said the trip was part of the RNLI’s broader international development work to help tackle drowning.
He said: “We’re focusing on helping others, like the Senegalese lifeguards, to help themselves – ensuring they can establish and sustain their own lifesaving service, to grow organically and go on to save lives using their own people and skills.
“The amount of training two experienced RNLI lifeguards can deliver in two weeks will make a huge difference and will help put an end to tragedies like nine children losing their lives at sea.”
Two of the Senegalese lifeguards, Idrissa Ndiaye and Moustapha Diene, travelled to the UK in August 2012 to attend a bespoke lifesaving leadership course at the RNLI’s headquarters, where the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards train.
The RNLI has been stepping-up its international development work since 2011, to help developing search and rescue-related organisations and reduce the estimated 1.2m drownings which occur around the world each year.