International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education
July 2013 Edition
Published Article on The Lifesaving Foundation by John Connolly
The Lifesaving Foundation is an international charity, based in Ireland, devoted to saving lives from drowning. The Foundation does this in a number of ways;
1. SUICIDE BY DROWNING
The Foundation promotes research into suicide by drowning with a focus on preventing entry to water and the rescue of drowning casualties. Death by Suicide is a major problem worldwide, especially in Ireland, where a number of successful prevention and rescue strategies have been developed. The Foundation is working with leading Irish suicide rescue organisations such as Dublin Fire Brigade Water Rescue Unit and Foyle Search and Rescue in Derry and has published a number of research papers on suicide by drowning.
2. WATER SAFETY INFORMATION
Although much literature is available on water safety most of it is of a general nature. The Foundation identifies areas of risk where specific safety information and advice is needed and produces leaflets for public use. Leaflets produced include Foreign Holiday Water Safety and Survival Floating. The Foundation played a full role in the Open Water Drowning Prevention Task Force and published a booklet based on the Guidelines.
3. PERSONAL SURVIVAL
In Ireland (and elsewhere) about a half of those who drown can swim yet they cannot save themselves from drowning when they need to. The Foundation is promoting research into what is lacking in available swimming instruction programmes that result in such a tragic situation. The Foundation has published a number of documents (e.g. Float – Don’t Swim) in this area and is supporting an international research project with a view to greatly improving this situation.
4. FEMALE SWIMMING INSTRUCTION
Females are not taught to swim for cultural reasons in many regions of the world. The Foundation has supported the Women’s Swimming Project in Sri Lanka where mothers are taught to swim in private classes and are then taught how to teach their own and neighbours children to swim in local swimming holes. The majority of those who drowned in the recent tsunami were non-swimmer females. This is a very successful project and is seen as a model for other areas worldwide.
5. LIFEGUARD TRAINING PROJECT
Since 2005 the Foundation has financially supported the training of over 500 young unemployed swimmers as professional lifeguards to meet local safety needs in Africa and Asia. The project is based in Soweto, South Africa, but not confined there. This project not only gives a vocational qualification to unemployed youths and boosts tourism in developing areas but also by the training provided places trained first aiders in communities that often lack any medical services. The majority of those trained are in full-time employment as lifeguards.
6. DROWNING PREVENTION CONFERENCE
The Foundation organises an bi-annual conference in Ireland during which international experts in various swimming, rescue and resuscitation disciplines consider different aspects of drowning prevention.
7. THE IRELAND MEDAL
The Foundation awards the Ireland Medal annually to an Irish person / organisation or to a person of Irish descent who has made an exceptional contribution to saving lives from drowning.
Membership of the Lifesaving Foundation is open to any interested adult or organisation worldwide.