Beach safety and community well-being are receiving a boost with a new initiative from Montserrat Fire and Rescue Service and the Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS).
The two departments announced the development of the Montserrat Beach Safety Initiative, under the leadership of Chief Fire Officer (AG) Kenrick Hackett. The project is being delivered in collaboration with Police Constable Valmond of the RMPS Marine Unit and key stakeholders, the Montserrat Port Authority and the Meridian Construction Company Limited.
“This is a real team effort across different Montserrat agencies, the public and private sector to make our beaches safe, accessible to local people and attractive to tourists. In future I hope this will become a fully integrated and community owned project providing young people an opportunity to develop skills and have fun,” Hackett stated in a release.
The three-pronged strategy is set to transform beach safety through a coordinated effort delivering:
A community based, youth focused, Lifeguard Service
Positioning of marker buoys to identify swimming areas
A boat and jet ski safety campaign.
PC Valmond has already started the Lifeguarding Service with four-hour lifeguard coverage on Sunday afternoons from 12 noon to 4PM at Little Bay. Using this as an example the aim is to launch the ‘Lifeguarding by the Community for the Community’ programme.
“We want to develop the Lifeguarding Service into a community owned and run volunteer initiative engaging people of all ages to contribute to our beach safety and expanding the Little Bay service to other beaches as our project grows. We will attend the Management Training for Leaders in Lifesaving, taking place in September delivered by the Royal National Lifeboat Association in the UK and will cascade training on return,” said PC Valmond.
The Montserrat Port Authority (MPA) will shortly install swimming barriers as part two of the strategy. Manager of the MPA, Joseph O’Garro, expressed his delight saying “It is essential for everyone using Little Bay that we create a safe environment. With the support of Meridian Construction Company Limited, temporary swimming barriers, which will eventually be replaced by permanent swimming barriers, will demark a safe swimming area. All craft, particularly jet skis, should respect these markers, to ensure their own safety and that of other water users.”
Swimming barriers are planned for Little Bay, Carr’s Bay, Bunkum Bay, Woodlands, Old Roads Bay, and Isles Bay.
According to the release, the strategy will be completed with the delivery of a comprehensive awareness campaign including RMPS reaching out to boat and jet ski owners to underline the paramount importance of responsible boating practices, particularly with regards to speed, in areas frequented by swimmers.
Commissioner of Police, Dr. Nick Caveney said “this initiative has three elements. First, the Lifeguarding Service is a great opportunity to keep people on our beaches safe, to provide a fun development opportunity for young people and to engage the community in something practical. Second, the support we have from the Port Authority to create clearly demarcated swimming areas across some of Montserrat’s major beaches will reduce the risk of inadvertent conflict between boats, jet skis and swimmers. Third, we are reinforcing the legal responsibilities of boat and jet ski owners and users through an education programme which will reinforce the consequences should people not adhere to the directions. We hope these three elements will make a substantial difference to water safety here on Montserrat.”
If you are interested in joining the lifeguard team or in supporting this initiative in other ways, contact: Phone: 1-664-491-2555 or email: Police@gov.ms.