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Swimmers' safety tops LCSD's priority

In response to enquiries about the employment of short-term lifeguards by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) this year (2004), a spokesman for the department issued the following statement today (April 7):

"Every year, the department reviews the number of short-term lifeguards in accordance with the actual requirements to ensure the quality of lifeguard services and the safety of swimmers.

The study on the 2004 lifeguard manpower arrangement was completed in late 2003. We consider that the following arrangements or factors can streamline the number of short-term lifeguards while at the same time ensuring that the safety of swimmers will not be affected:

1. The responsibility for maintaining the queuing order at the waiting platforms on top of the water slides can be taken up by non-lifeguards as life-saving skills are not required for these posts. Nevertheless, lifeguards will still be on duty near the landing point at the bottom of the water slides. This arrangement has already been implemented in certain swimming pools and is proving effective;

2. During the peak swimming season, two lifeguards will be designated to man the training pools/teaching pools at each complex;

3. Lifeguards previously deployed to the blind spot areas of the swimming pools are no longer required following completion of improvement works in the areas;

4. The lifeguard requirements of each pool will be worked out in accordance with the actual highest attendance rather than the maximum design capacity.

At the same time, comprehensive rescue plans are in place and drills are conducted regularly to equip staff for prompt and effective response to accidents and emergencies.

In 2004, over 1,780 lifeguards will be deployed to man 32 gazetted beaches open to the public and 36 public swimming pools managed by the department. This number includes some 940 short-term lifeguards for the peak swimming season between April and October.

LCSD always attaches great importance to seeking the views of the frontline staff on the operation of the pools through different channels. Corresponding adjustments have been made and the final manpower arrangement was supported and accepted by the majority of the staff concerned.

LCSD will closely monitor the implementation of the new manpower arrangement at the pools for further improvement if and when necessary."

Ends/Wednesday, April 7, 2004
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