Editorial for March 18: Watersports deaths a shame

 

Imagine vacationing with your
friends and family in our paradise of the Cayman Islands and ending your
holiday when one in your party perishes while participating in watersports
here.

Unfortunately in the past four
years we have averaged between nine and 10 water-related deaths per year.

The saddest thing of all is that
probably all of these deaths could have been avoided.

If you look at the statistics in
our article on Page 1 you will read that Cayman recorded 26 fatalities between
2003 and today. Of those, 18 were men and eight were women; 22 of the 26 were
older than 50 and the youngest was 39.

Our review of the autopsies of 17
of those people revealed most of those drowned, five had heart disease and one
had an air embolism.

The good news is that diving
equipment failure was not cited in any of the mishaps. This speaks volumes to
our watersports industry. Kudos.

What we don’t know is if the 11 who
were ruled to have died from drowning suffered other complications such as heart
attacks. It is known that some of them had heart conditions.

We think that overall the
watersports industry in the Cayman Islands does a good job of keeping its clients
and our visitors safe.

It is incumbent on people coming to our shores to be
honest with themselves and watersports operators about their health conditions.

Most operators have snorkellers and divers sign waivers stating that they are
healthy enough to participate in watersports. But people do, for one reason or
another, lie.

How can we better police people who
come here to swim, snorkel and dive? Short of giving everyone medical exams
before they begin their lovely holiday on our shores, we can’t.

Visitors must
be made to understand that they have to know their own limitations.

Just
because you’re in a foreign country on holiday, your medical issues don’t just
disappear.

Those who have diving certification for life should also be required
to have regular medical checkups and the validity of those certificates should
be based on what those doctor exams find.

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