Posted by: tommecrow | May 23, 2012

Lifeguard training in Bangladesh

I’ve been in Cox’s Bazar for the past few months working with the Cox’s Bazar Surfing and Lifesaving Club to help them develop a beach lifeguard service. They’re a great bunch, and really keen for new/old equipment. Ramjan Mia is their communication man, and can be contact at

Here’s some news from the beach…..

Setting up a voluntary patrol

In April the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh (CIPRB) teamed up with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) from the UK to deliver a beach lifeguard training course to 15 members of the Cox’s Bazar Surfing and Lifesaving Club in Bangladesh.

Although many different private company’s claim to employ ‘lifeguards’ along the beach, few have received any formal training and many are poor swimmers. Most lifeguard stations make money from advertising, and struggle to build the skills of the lifeguards. This leaves the beach and its swimmers inadequately supervised.

Drowning is a leading cause of death in Bangladesh (the leading cause of death in children aged 1-17). Each year many tourists unaccustomed to the dangers of the sea get into difficulty in the treacherous currents on the beaches of Cox’s Bazar.  In recent years a number of high-profile drowning deaths have highlighted such dangers. 

The 10 day lifeguard training course provided by CIPRB and the RNLI taught participants how to identify a drowning casualty, bring them to the shore, and provide appropriate after-care (including resuscitation).

Fortunately, Green World lifeguard Mohammed Abdul Sukkur – who is also a member of the Surfing and Lifesaving Club – attended the training course.


Abdul, 28, was conducting a regular patrol in Cox’s Bazar a few weeks ago when he noticed a swimmer in difficulty in a rip current off Kolatoli Beach. Reacting quickly Abdul ran into the water and swam out to help the swimmer.

“I was watching him while I was swimming. He was getting more and more tired in the water, then his face went down in the water” says Abdul.

By the time Abdul arrived at the scene the casualty was unconscious.

“I remembered the lifeguard training that we did recently. I towed the person into the beach and the other lifeguards helped me bring him up the sand” he recalls.

“I checked for breathing, he was still breathing so I put him in the recovery position. He was vomiting lots of water, but the recovery position stopped him from chocking”.

After 15 minutes the victim – a 25 year old male tourist from Dhaka – regained consciousness and was sent to the local hospital by rickshaw.

“He wouldn’t give me his name,” says Abdul smiling, “he said he did not want to be identified in the local papers because he would be in trouble from his family in Dhaka”.

The incident highlights the need for professional training for all lifeguards currently working on the beaches of Bangladesh. CIPRB and the RNLI are in the process of organising training for more lifeguards in October, and are confident they can train master trainers in Bangladesh to continue the work.

However there continues to be uncertainty from current lifeguard services surrounding the benefits of investing in training, despite the obvious – and now demonstrated – benefits to beach users.

“The private lifeguard services in Bangladesh don’t want to spend money on training lifeguards because then they will have to pay them more” says one of the lifeguards on duty who wishes to remain anonymous.

CIPRB and the RNLI hope that the newly trained lifeguards will create demand for extra training as they continue to save lives, and hope to work in partnership with the companies currently funding lifeguard services in the future.

“We are looking forward to working with the beach lifeguard providers to provide appropriate training to the lifeguards in Bangladesh,” says Dr Aminur Rahman, technical director of CIPRB. 

Abdul is pleased with the training he received, stating, “I have been working as a lifeguard for 7 years. Before I didn’t know how to rescue, but now I am proud of my new skills.”

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