Awareness of safety on beaches stressed
KARACHI – Civil defence experts, volunteers and rescuers on July 15 stressed the need for creating awareness among the public of life safety and precautionary measures on the beaches and provision of more life-saving facilities on such spots.
Speaking at a seminar on Ensuring Safety of Beaches organized by the Pakistan Press Foundation, they stressed coordinated efforts by the agencies concerned, including the city government, the Pakistan Navy, the Fire Brigade Department and non-governmental organizations for protecting lives of people on the beaches.
Speaking on the occasion, the head of the Life-Saving and Rescue, Coordination Cell of the Pakistan Navy, Lt-Commander Tariq Mehmood, said the navy was providing swimming and diving training to volunteers and employees of different agencies deployed on the beaches.
He said first aid and other medical facilities should be provided immediately when a lifeguard or a diver brought out any rescued person as all efforts of the lifeguards would go waste if a person died owing to lack of medical treatment.
The naval expert said the public should be made aware of the need for life jackets as the beach visitors did not pay any heed to beach-safety efforts, directions and bulletins aired from the rescue centres.
President of the Pakistan Aquatic Life-Saving Raza Samad stressed on hiring local fishermen as lifeguards as they were natural swimmers and divers, easily available and with a little training and refresher courses could become reliable lifeguards.
He said the CDGK had 45 lifeguards for the protection of over 100,000 people who visited the picnic area of about 35 kilometres and it was very difficult to cope with all mishaps.
He said in June 2004, a New Zealander lifeguard agency trained 200 Pakistani lifeguards and local fishermen. He said the public should be made aware of saving their own lives by avoiding going into rough sea.
Rip-tide was a very dangerous path where waves striking the shores returned to the sea, he said, adding that rip-tide zones should be identified by hoisting two flags at such places.
The city government’s district officer for Civil Defence and Fire Brigade, Colonel (retd) Ehtashamuddin, said the CDGK had signed many memoranda of understanding with agencies of other countries for security on beaches and provision of recreational facilities.
He said the CDGK planned to set up an emergency rescue centre at Clifton and work on it would be started soon. The CDGK had also planned to set up restaurants, two more emergency rescue centres on the beaches for providing better recreational facilities.
Section 144 has been imposed at four dangerous points while picnickers are not allowed to enter seawater at any other point due to rough sea and high tide these days. Rizwan Edhi said people went to beaches only for recreational activities and did not expect any mishap.
He said 60,000 agencies were registered in Pakistan and some 25,000 in Karachi and they should come forward to provide the masses with better recreational facilities besides extending their services during natural calamities such as floods, accidents and bomb blasts to save loss of life and property.
The Edhi Foundation was purchasing two modern boats equipped with latest communication facilities to save lives of fishermen who met mishaps on the open sea. Chief Fire Officer Kazim Ali said picnickers should show a responsible attitude on the beaches.
He said the emergency rescue centre provided its service from 9am till sunset, with three ambulances of the Edhi Foundation, one of the rescue centre and four mobiles. It also aired necessary information about the sea position through watch-towers.
Of the 1500-2000 people whom the rescue centre provided facilities seasonally, drowning cases were about 50 and 80 per cent of them died and only 20 per cent could be saved if they got medical aid on time, he said.
He said the main target of the emergency rescue centre was to reduce the drowning cases and mishaps through coordinated efforts with other agencies, including the Pakistan Navy, the Maritime Security Agency and NGOs.