As an island nation, residents of the Philippines rely on water in so many ways in their daily lives. Drowning is a common occurrence here, yet many of these deaths are preventable if there are trained lifesavers on hand to respond quickly and take the right action to carry out rescues.

The islands are also located in an area prone to natural disasters, including flash floods, typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis. Typhoon Haiyan (known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines), which hit the country in November 2013, was the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record. The huge displacement of people uprooted by this disaster will only increase the risk of drowning deaths for people away from home, in unfamiliar environments.

The difference we’ve made

We’ve trained members of a variety of organisations from different areas of the Philippines, including lifesaving clubs, the Coast Guard, fire service, police, local government and the Red Cross. They all came with a shared need – to be able to save lives in water.

Equipped with the essentials of lifeguarding, the can return to their respective areas of the Philippines better equipped to save lives from drowning.

A group of lifeguarding essentials trainees in the water in the Philippines
A group of lifeguarding essentials trainees in the water in the Philippines

In March 2014 and January 2015, RNLI lifeguard instructors travelled to the remote Camotes Islands to provide lifesaving training: 30 lifeguards and 12 instructors were trained to deliver their own courses locally, plus 600 children received water safety lessons.

What impact can this kind of training have?

Jolem Alfeche lost two of his children in a flash flood in December 2011. Only his wife and youngest daughter survived. Now he talks about the experience of learning water rescue techniques with the RNLI in 2014.