The Ministry of Tourism is readying just about everyone in the sector for the upcoming tourism season, anticipated to be a bumper one.
Its latest move is the training of about 30 officers within the Beach Safety and Security Unit (BSSU) who are expected to undergo extensive training for the next two weeks to be certified in their respective fields of operation.
The course is being facilitated by Mr. Patrick D’almada and Ms. Lisa Adams of the Canadian Lifesaving Society and participants will receive either the bronze medallion, bronze cross, or a lifesaving certificate at the end of the exercise.
Manager of the BSSU Elroy Daley says since its inception in 2003, the unit has seen tremendous growth and has engaged in numerous training exercises commencing with the initial facilitated by the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross under the Directorship of Mr. Gerald Price.
Lead facilitator Patrick D’almada who has over 30 years of experience in the field says the overall intent is to assist the unit to develop a wide range of programs that extend beyond the 2-week session. “We do not believe it is a one-time training. We want to develop a range of programs from basic levels right up to the professional level so that all fragments of society can benefit”, said D’almada.
Other training components included maritime training in 2004 with the Royal Canadian Navy and the Antigua and Barbuda Coastguard as well as Emergency Medical Technician training.
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism and Investment Charles Fernandez says the training and certification exercise comes at a very opportune time.
“We must ensure that all activities on the nation’s 365 beaches are done under the care and supervision of well-trained and qualified attendants. It takes only one mishandled incident, and the eyes of the world will focus on and scrutinize our standard operating procedures with a magnifying lens,” he said.
Fernandez also says he is elated at the involvement of private swimming instructors in the exercise proffering that because of their involvement, residents will benefit tremendously.
The Lifesaving Society of Canada is a part of the Royal Lifesaving Commonwealth. Antigua and Barbuda as one of the nations of the Commonwealth fall under the purview of this organization. Similar programs are executed in Barbados, St. Lucia, and Grenada.
Theoretical courses will be covered at the Villa Polyclinic auditorium while practical assignments will be executed at Fort James Beach.
In 2008 the Ministry of Tourism’s Lifeguard Unit established a relationship with the Canadian lifesaving society, and the first training was conducted that saw 10 persons receive their Bronze Medallion, Bronze Cross, and national lifeguard certificate. Of the 10 persons who were certified, only 4 are still staff members of the Ministry of Tourism and the unit has grown exponentially since then.