MAKKAH: The Saudi Life Saving Federation has introduced two initiatives to help reduce drowning cases in the Kingdom.
The federation’s chief, Ahmed Al-Shammari, said that the programs will focus on training and qualification.
He said that the federation will introduce a six-day, 50-hour training program for men and women, after which trainees obtain an international rescuer certificate through which they can work in Saudi Arabia and in all member states of the International Life Saving Federation (ILS).
He added that another program will allow Saudis who qualify in international courses to submit them through the federation’s “rescuer” platform. A theoretical and practical evaluation process is then carried out. Once cleared, rescuers will obtain official certificates.
Al-Shammari said that the Saudi Life Saving Federation has provided its services to over 500 beneficiaries and works to increase community awareness on water safety through social and traditional media.
Water safety is a global concern, with one person drowning every two minutes around the world.
Al-Shammari told Arab News: “We regret the drowning cases occurring in several Saudi cities,” adding that avoiding these incidents is an integrated societal responsibility and everyone must join hands to prevent drowning cases.
He said that a society-wide response is what the federation works for through training, rehabilitation and a legislative calendar that benefits every rescuer, citizen, and resident, allowing them to obtain official certificates when they are available to train.
Al-Shammari said that the federation, established in 2019 by Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, was certified by the ILS in 2020.
“We need a wide media mobilization to raise awareness about the importance of rescue and water safety. We aim to train the largest number of qualified lifeguards,” he said, noting that the federation has recently been granted seven seats at the ILS in Belgium.
Al-Shammari noted: “We focus on providing theoretical and practical qualifications by offering a range of courses for beginners working in water bodies, swimming pools and beaches, and contributing to the development of technical standards and regulations with all relevant authorities. We are currently working with the relevant authorities on forming a national committee to set national policies to prevent drowning cases.”
He stressed that work is currently underway to develop rescue sports competitions in various regions to prepare for the Kingdom’s representation in upcoming international forums.