A squad of newly trained lifeguards from the Cayman International School could be used to help make Cayman’s public beaches safer, their instructor believes.
The 16 lifeguards were on patrol at the Flowers Sea Swim on Saturday. They completed their training in a semester-long course at the school.
Stephanie Hogan, a new aquatics teacher at the school and an international lifeguard instructor trainer, said the teenagers had been through intensive training on lifesaving skills. She would like to broaden the course to train more lifeguards to work on Cayman’s beaches.
“I just felt bringing that type of program to this island would be a really cool option for high school students to walk away with a really tangible qualification that would be relevant in their world,” she said.
Though the Cayman Turtle Farm and some private hotels use lifeguards, there are none on the public beaches. The Red Cross has advocated for government to employ lifeguards at some of the island’s busiest beaches.
“You just don’t see lifeguards on the island like you do in other beach communities around the world,” Ms. Hogan said. “One of my goals would be to help that become more prevalent on the island.
“We know that people drown at public beaches every year. I responded to an emergency involving a six-year-old boy here at Public Beach. It’s really scary.”
The lifeguards provided support from the beach and from Jet Skis in the water during the swim on Saturday.
The students, from Years 9 to 11, trained in shallow and deep-water rescue, CPR, dealing with spinal injuries and rescuing conscious and unconscious victims, as well as honing their own swimming skills in twice-weekly sessions at the Cayman International School pool.
Karina Cornelssen, 16, one of the students on patrol on Saturday, said, “It’s a really good opportunity; we never had it before. We are surrounded by water, so we definitely needed more lifeguards.”
She said it is also useful to know she could help if someone got in trouble at the beach. “Now we feel like we could actually do something if there was an emergency.”