A joint study by SGH and SCDF has found that lifeguards were not present in seven out of 10 drowning and near-drowning cases that happened between 2012 and 2014.
Singapore may have more than
2,000 licensed swimming pools but
many do not have lifeguards on
A joint study by the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and Singapore
Civil Defence Force (SCDF)
has found that lifeguards were not
present in seven out of 10 drowning
and near-drowning cases that happened
between 2012 and 2014.
The study’s authors pointed out
that, ideally, a lifeguard should be
in attendance at every pool.
As of last year, there are around
2,400 licensed swimming pools
here, compared with 1,900 in 2012,
according to National Environment
Agency (NEA) figures.
The agency issues licences to all
pools that the public has access to,
including condominiums, hotels
and private clubs. However, swimming
pools in private homes do not
fall under these regulations.
The study also found that seven
out of 10 drowning and near-drowning
cases occurred at private pools,
and, in most instances, lifeguards
were not on duty. Four out of the 10
victims in all cases involved children
under 10 years old.
The researchers included all
cases where injuries occurred due
to the person being submerged, regardless
of whether the person subsequently
Figures from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital KKH show there
were 104 drowning and near drowning
accidents between 2011
“Lifeguards should be hired for
pools with a high volume of swimmers,”
said Dr Joanna Chan, who is
a senior resident at SGH’s emergency
Those that lack lifeguards should
consider training security officers
or other personnel in emergency resuscitation
techniques, she added.
Those in the industry cite low pay,
lack of career prospects and a poor
professional image as key reasons
why people are reluctant to join.
Around 500 people qualify for the Singapore Life Saving Society's bronze medallion exam each year, said Mr Richard Tan, who is the society's president.
This is the minimum qualification to work as a lifeguard.
"(But) many people may qualify merely to work part-time or on a temporary basis," he said.
"The pay and employment benefits package of lifeguards, in relation to other occupations, may not be attractive enough."
Lifeguards are typically paid between $1,500 and $2,000 a month.
In addition, the lack of career prospects discourages some.
Mr Patrick Lee, who was a lifeguard for 14 years, said: "The furthest you can go is maybe a senior lifeguard in an organisation."
Mr Lee now runs Lifeguard Singapore, which offers life-saving and swimming courses. He added that the public's impression of lifeguards is that they have an easy job, which does not help their professional image.
"In other countries, lifeguards are seen as professionals. In the pool, they are the authority."
One lifeguard - Sentosa beach patrol officer Muhammad Adli Jainulabudin - enjoys his job and said it suits his love of the outdoors. "The key thing is to always stay vigilant and keep a watchful eye out for potential dangers, before they turn into a hazard," he said.