With over 750 000 Canadian tourists visiting the Dominican Republic every year, you can be sure the consular team from the Embassy of Canada keeps busy. However, there is one activity that they’ve always got time to organize: the Lifesaving Program.
The program got its start in 2010 in Puerto Plata, when 24-year Honorary Consul veteran Tim Hall responded to the need to train tourism industry employees to help reduce the number of drowning victims in this country’s paradisiacal beaches. Later that year, the program was also launched in Punta Cana. To date, over 700 adults have participated in 8 editions of this program, and the number of lives it has impacted is incalculable.
“At the Embassy of Canada in the Dominican Republic, we were very proud of this year's training program, once again sponsored by volunteers of the Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada. This program not only has had great success in improving water safety for both tourists and the local population, but also serves as a unique opportunity to demonstrate the solidarity between Canadians and Dominicans.” - Ambassador Georges Boissé
The course concentrates on teaching tourism industry employees and local authorities basic and advanced techniques in Search and Rescue and First Aid. It is taught by volunteer instructors from the Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada – Nova Scotia Branch and counts on the sponsorship of Canadian and Dominican-based companies in order to be offered free of charge.
The program was also extended last year in Punta Cana to give local children basic swim lessons, in a course called Swim to Survive. In three 1-hour classes, children aged eight through eleven who have never learned how to swim, are taught how to stay afloat, swim a short distance and roll in deep water — all necessary techniques should they ever fall into a pool or find themselves having difficulty in the ocean. Over 60 children have participated to date, and they have enjoyed every minute of it!
“The Lifesaving program in the Dominican Republic has been a perfect partnership. Through the efforts of the Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada - Nova Scotia Branch, the Canadian Embassy and all the sponsors, we have been able to deliver a low cost and effective Lifesaving program that has impacted many lives. The program has provided our instructors with a meaningful volunteer experience and an opportunity to share their lifesaving skills abroad. Our most important goal is to help create enough interest and support for lifesaving in the Dominican Republic that the program eventually becomes self-sustaining.” - Gordon Richardson, Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Branch of the Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada
The Embassy of Canada to the Dominican Republic would like to thank all the valuable sponsors who made this year’s program possible; The Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada, Westjet Vacations, Occidental Grand Punta Cana, ClubHotel Riu Bachata, Velero Beach Resort, Barceló Dominican Beach, Tubagua Eco Lodge, Centro Médico Bournigal, Centro Médico Punta Cana, Go Golf Tours, El Macao Surf Camp, S-Trip! and Ashonorte.