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Portraits of National Sports Associations
 
The Hong Kong Life Saving Society
 
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On a blazing hot day in the heat of summer, is there anyone who doesn¡¦t love water sports? In order to raise the safety awareness of citizens doing water sports, we have invited Mr Anthony W. L. CHAN, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Life Saving Society, to share with us the work and development of the Society.
 
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As Mencius said in Li Lou, ¡§whomsoever you see in distress, recognize in him a fellow man¡¨. Under this motto, the society has saved over 32 000 lives over 50 years, and have greatly reduced the number of aquatic ¡V related accidents by organizing all sort of programmes and promotional activities to raise safety awareness and train more professional lifeguards. The Society has attracted many people who are devoted to life saving and now has over a hundred thousand of members and more than 124 affiliated clubs.

Mr CHAN mentioned that the Hong Kong Life Saving Society was founded by policemen, boy scouts, students and also lifeguards from the former Urban Councils, who were all devoted to life saving. Members offered up their spare time to serve the public, and founded the Hong Kong Life Guard Club (predecessor of the Hong Kong Life Saving Society). This club was formally established as the Hong Kong Life Guard Club (now known as Hong Kong Life Saving Society) in 1956, and the Society is currently a member of the International Life Saving Federation. It is also the sole organization responsible for holding lifesaving examinations and awarding lifesaving credentials in Hong Kong.

¡§There will be fewer accidents once people become more aware of their own safety!¡¨ said Mr CHAN while emphasizing the importance of educating the public about water safety. The certificate programmes and training provided by the Society focus on teaching students about the basics of water safety. Furthermore, the Society works with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and the Education Bureau from time to time to co-organize water safety promotion activities (e.g. the Water Safety Slogan and Poster Competition for primary and secondary students). The winning works will then be posted on the notice boards at public beaches and swimming pools to serve as reminders and promotion.

Another important task of the Society is to provide the public with lifesaving training and a set of qualifications at different levels to ensure there are enough qualified lifeguards serving in Hong Kong. The qualifications issued by the Society are recognized by the government and various private organizations, and a number of them are even at international standards and are accredited by the International Life Saving Federation. The bronze medallion lifesaving training course is for beginners, whereas the pool lifeguard award or beach lifeguard award, or other more advanced awards, are only granted to those who have become qualified lifeguards. Furthermore, the Society keeps introducing new rescue techniques, such as jet ski rescue, inflatable rescue boat (IRB), canoe rescue and use of automated external defibrillation, etc., to keep up with the times.

To attract more young people to participate in lifesaving, the Society has organized various major sport events (e.g. the Hong Kong Open Lifesaving Championships), and has committed itself to training athletes and arranging for them to enter worldwide lifesaving competitions. Among these competitions are the Asian Life Saving (Pool) Championship which was organized by the society in 2005 and 2010 respectively, and were competitions in which the lifesaving team of Hong Kong was named the champion; the five day Asian Life Saving Tournament at Zhejiang Ningbo, China in 2011 in which Hong Kong has won 13 gold, 11 silver and 10 bronze medals and was the overall team champion of the event; the National Life Saving Championships 2011 in which both the pool and the surfing teams were the champions, making Hong Kong the champion for the sixth consecutive time for this event.
 
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Mr CHAN also explained that the funding and promotion of the Society are subsidized by the LCSD, especially the lifesaving training programmes for kids that have been organized by community life saving clubs in recent years. By letting children participate in lifesaving, new blood is introduced into the sport. With the full support of the LCSD, the Society has named 1 May of every year as ¡§Hong Kong Water Safety Day¡¨. Hong Kong Water Safety Day was held at Repulse Bay this year, and a series of events such as water sports activities, lifesaving performances, exhibition booths and variety shows also took place on the day to raise public awareness for water safety.

Mr CHAN hopes that the Society can continue to raise public awareness for water safety, introduce latest lifesaving skills and improve the quality of local lifeguards in the coming future. In the meantime, he hopes that the Life Saving Team of Hong Kong will continue to achieve the best results in competitions for the glory of Hong Kong.
 
If you are interested in lifesaving, please visit the website of the Hong Kong Life Saving Society. (website address: http://www.hklss.org.hk).
 
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