Saturday 21 April 2018

Ghana lifeguards train before holidays

Ghana lifeguards train before holidays
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)

A young woman hangs limp in the arms of men bringing her from the ocean to the sand as part of their lifeguard training in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

While restaurants and hotels are bracing for the wave of Easter weekend tourists coming to the white sandy beaches along the Atlantic ocean, about 50 volunteers participated in the Ghana National Aquatic Rescue Unit (GNARU) training.

Set up in 2016, the unit prepares for responding to drownings and heart attacks.

Without official statistics, it's difficult to know how many people die each year from drowning in Ghana.

But the waters of the Gulf of Guinea are strong, the currents deadly -- and many people don't know how to swim.

A former lifeguard in Britain, Felix Uzor decided to create GNARU after witnessing the fatal drowning of a three-year-old girl on Labadi beach, one of the most popular beaches in Accra.

"The country doesn't provide a state rescue system," Uzor explains. "Most swimming areas... record high levels of drowning, especially during holidays."

Today the unit is mostly comprised of employees from Ghana's national disaster management organisation, soldiers from the navy and firefighters.

"Although there is no salary for this job, I'm motivated," said Danso Oteng Prince, a volunteer whose day job is with the navy.

"Because if I can swim and others can't, then it's good to help save lives."

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