With regard to media enquiries about the manpower deployment in response to the Hong Kong & Kowloon Life Guards Union's call to stage a strike on August 5, the Sport for All Day, a spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) today (August 2) gave the following response:
The department has formulated a contingency plan with the undertaking from the Hong Kong Life Saving Society and venue-based lifeguard clubs to provide more than 300 volunteer lifeguards to support the operation of the affected public swimming pools and beaches on August 5. These volunteers normally reinforce the lifeguard service of LCSD swimming pools and beaches during weekends and public holidays in peak swimming seasons, hence they are familiar with the operation of individual pools and beaches.
Moreover, the Auxiliary Medical Services will also provide volunteer lifeguards, in addition to some 100 first aiders to assist in the first aid posts at swimming pools and beaches on August 5. Lifeguards originally on first aid duties can then be released for lifesaving duties.
Meanwhile, additional temporary lifeguards have been recruited today to reinforce the lifesaving service on the Sport for All Day. In hiring these temporary lifeguards, the department has imposed the same requirements as that of the seasonal lifeguards. Successful applicants must possess valid certificates of Pool Lifeguard Award or Beach Lifeguard Award or awards of a higher level issued by the Hong Kong Life Saving Society. They must have passed the interviews and trade tests on vision, ability to distinguish colours and swimming. These temporary lifeguards will report duty in these two days to get themselves familiarised with the environment and operation of the swimming pools concerned. The venue-in-charge will also provide guidance to them. These temporary lifeguards are not meant to substitute existing lifeguards, but to supplement their additional workload as expected from organising the Sport for All Day.
The department is continuously assessing the impact of the strike likely brought on the swimming pools and beaches. In any event, the department will always put public safety at the forefront when determining the contingency arrangements. If there are insufficient lifeguards on duty on August 5, the department will not hesitate to close part of or all of the facilities in the affected swimming pools so as to safeguard swimmers' safety.
As for the union's claim that a 50-metre standard main pool and secondary pool will require four to six lifeguards according to the international standard, we have collated information and studied the operation and management mode of overseas lifesaving and swimming pool management organisations. Due to the varied nature in usage and facilities of swimming pool in different regions/countries, there is no uniform international standard on lifeguard establishment. Different regions/countries will have different lifeguard manpower arrangements according to actual individual situations.
The department also determines the lifeguard requirement according to the actual situation of individual swimming pools and beaches. As our swimming pools provide different types and number of swimming facilities, while the design and usage rate of each swimming pool vary, the actual requirement of lifeguards for each swimming pool may be different. Taking the 50-metre standard main pool in the Kowloon Park Swimming Pool as an example, it is manned by six lifeguards all year round in view of its high patronage rate and large size with a water depth of more than 1.9 metres.
Ends/Thursday, August 2, 2012