No lifeguard employed in resorts, hotel pools here
posted 10-Apr-2018  ·  
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At the time a 17-year old Pandan student accidentally drowned at a popular beach resort in Virac last week, not one of the numerous beach and river resorts in Catanduanes as well as hotels with swimming pools, had a lifeguard on their payroll.

This was disclosed by a certified lifeguard who works with a local emergency rescue team in Virac in response to a Tribune query last weekend.

There are at least three hotels with swimming pools in Virac, along with two beach resorts, while Baras counts several surfing resorts clustered in Puraran beach. San Andres has at least one big resort along while Pandan has one beach resort and Viga has a water recreation facility located by a river. There are many other smaller beach and spring resorts as well as numerous waterfalls where visitors have to swim or bathe at their own risk.

Under a provincial ordinance enacted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in 2016, all water-based recreational facilities are required to employ qualified lifeguards as a pre-requisite for the issuance of business or mayor’s permit to operate.

The accident in barangay Igang on the southwestern portion of the capital town occurred just as Mayor Samuel Laynes ordered the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) to conduct inspections of resorts to verify compliance with safety standards.

Last Mar. 26, 2018, Jayhard dela Rosa, a student of Pandan School of Arts and Trades and resident of barangay Napo, lost his life in an accident at the diving board area of Twin Rock beach resort where he and two other friends - Roiven Trinidad, 23, and Whelming Escaro Jr., 18, both of St. John Subdivision, Calatagan Tibang, Virac - were swimming at about 3 P.M..

According to the investigation report submitted by SPO3 Raymund Vidal, the trio went to the diving board area with the victim, who did not know how to swim, just staying at a shallow area. However, the strong current dragged him to the deep portion.

When he saw his cousin calling for help, Roiven tried to rescue him but Jayhard held on so tightly that Roiven almost drowned.

The victim then sank into the sea before he was retrieved by two resort visitors who dove for the victim’s body. A Twin Rock employee, Ma. Joibeth Rima, tried to revive the victim but was apparently unsuccessful.

When the Virac police station received the call for assistance at 3:45 P.M., it immediately sent a team and informed the nearby Philippine Red Cross Emergency Rescue Unit. When the rescuers arrived at the resort, dela Rosa was already unresponsive. He was declared dead on arrival at the Eastern Bicol Medical Center.

It could not be confirmed whether there was a lifeguard on duty at the resort at the time, although a warning sign posted at the kayak rental area informed clients that there was no life guard on duty and advised them to “swim at your own risk.”

It was the first fatality in a drowning accident at the popular resort in barangay Igang. According to a long-time worker at Twin Rock, a visitor under the influence of liquor ignored warnings from a life guard and other people and dove into the pool. The impact with the hard concrete bottom resulted in a serious neck injury, leaving the victim paralyzed until now, it is claimed.

Two British tourists who walked on the reef from Igang proper during low tide got caught by strong currents in the surf off the twin rocks and were dragged along the bottom, the source said. Three employees on board kayaks paddled to the area and rescued the duo, with the woman barely hanging on to the kayak. The victims suffered abrasions on their knees, feet and hands.

The incident has brought into the public spotlight the issue of resorts’ compliance with Provincial Ordinance No. 004-2016, which requires all pool or resort owners operating in Catanduanes to employ certified lifeguards and lifeguarding equipment in their operation.

Authored by Provincial Board Member Giovanni Balmadrid, the ordinance which was published in July 2017 mandates local government units to ensure compliance of said establishments through periodic monitoring and inspection by the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (LDRRMO) before issuing business permits.

Aside from a certified lifeguard for every 250 sq. meters of pool area, the resort is required to provide rescue equipment, accessories for first responders, sufficient signage to warn tourists or customers, and adequate buoys along the swimming area.

Only small wading or kiddie pools of not more than 16 sq. meters with a depth of three feet are exempt from the requirements.

Under its penal provisions, a pool operator who fails to employ the required number of lifeguards shall pay a fine of P1, 000.00 and the operating permit of the facility would be suspended for a period not exceeding 60 days. A second violation would earn the operator a fine of P2, 500.00 and the permit of the facility shall be revoked.

In the event of serious injury or death of any person as a result of the use of the pool facilities, a pool operator who fails to employ the required number of lifeguards shall pay a fine of P5,000.00 or shall be sentenced to not more than six months of imprisonment, or both in the discretion of the court.

In such case, the municipal official responsible for periodic local inspections shall be held administratively liable if the pool facility was able to continue its operations due to his or her refusal, omission, or neglect to fulfill his or her duty.

In the event of serious injury or death of any person as a result of the use of the resort, swimming pool and bathing facilities, any on-duty lifeguard who through gross negligence or imprudence fails to protect said person from the serious injury or death shall pay a fine of P5,000.00 or shall be sentenced to not more than one year of imprisonment or both in the discretion of the court.

The pool operator and the lifeguard shall be held jointly or solidarity liable for any civil liabilities imposed as a result of negligent or prudent act, it provides.

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