Saving lives remain as one of the most important task of any Coast Guard in the world. In keeping with the same standards, the Sri Lanka Coast Guard (SLCG) commenced its lifesaving activities in the year 2009. With the dawn of peace, the tourism industry gradually began to develop and the number of tourist arrivals to the country increased rapidly.
Out of many tourist attractions, the country’s world renowned beautiful beaches remain as one of the most popular tourist destinations. Apart from the foreign tourists the number of local tourists who visit the beaches around the country has seen an unprecedented increase especially after the defeat of terrorism in 2009.
While enjoying the beaches and a swim in our amazing seas, we as the SLCG have a huge obligation as well as a responsibility to protect those who step into our beaches and seas. Keeping this very fact in mind and abiding by the SLCG ‘lifesaving’ motto: ‘We Save Lives”, the SLCG is looking forward with a clear vision of making our sea safer to all. With the rapid developments that are taking place in the ‘lifesaving’ field, the SLCG aims at providing the best ‘lifesaving’ assistance to the public in the future.
Life Saving Posts
After identifying the importance of positioning SLCG life savers at key tourist beach destinations in the country, professional life savers were positioned at following locations;
1. Galle Face
4. Mt. Lavinia
5. Panadura 1
6. Panadura 11
Local and foreign tourists visit these beaches have commended the excellent service and committment of the CG life savers. With a total of over 151 professional and qualified life savers in the SLCG, a large number of lives have been saved during a short time span. SLCG have also introduced a low cost model ‘lifesaving’ post at Wellawatte beach area.
This lifesaving post is a major attraction at the Wellawatta beach area. SLCG expects to establish all of its lifesaving posts similar to that of the Wellawatta post in other earmarked beach areas in the island.
Life Saving Training
The SLCG has a strength of 130 qualified life savers. The Chief Examiner of the Life Saving Association of Sri Lanka has added to this strength by providing professional and expert ‘life saving’ training for CG personnel
The CG life savers are qualified in following major categories
- Bronze medal.
With the recent establishment of a dedicated CG ‘Lifesaving’ Training Center at Balapitiya, CG ‘lifesaving’ training has expanded its services not only to the CG personnel but also to outsiders too. Cadets of the National Cadet Corps followed the initial lifesaving programme conducted at this training center and a dedicated training programme was conducted for the youth in Balapitiya area. This will have a direct impact on the tourism industry in the area and these youth will be recognized as professional life savers.
Apart from training being conducted at this center, the SLCG base at Mirissa too conducts professional training for CG personnel.
The Future Action Plan
SLCG intends to construct ‘lifesaving’ posts similar to the Wellawatta model lifesaving post at popular tourist beach destinations around the country. The initial phase aims at constructing such posts along the Western coast moving towards the South and the second phase will focus on the Eastern beach areas. In the subsequent phases the SLCG will concentrate on building lifesaving posts in the Northern area.
This will add strength to the tourism industry as a whole as most hoteliers will feel confident and safe by the presence of a professional lifesaving post in their areas. The services of the CG life savers are offered free and, for the hoteliers the presence of dedicated and a professional CG lifesaving facility will be an added advantage to promote their industry safety levels internationally.
A number of hoteliers have agreed to provide assistance in constructing these lifesaving posts on their beach areas. Considering the importance of having a dedicated lifesaving post with a professional life guards from the CG on duty, possible assistance is sought from all interested persons in the industry to assist the CG in fulfilling an important safety requirement of the industry and promote safe beaches of our country worldwide.