On October 28, 2010, the Bali Lifesaving Association (Balawista) celebrated its 38th anniversary. Despite a dedicated team of 127 staffing 18 coastal stations, Bali's valiant lifeguards remain badly under-equipped when it comes to lifesaving hardware.
In reviewing the nearly four decade history of the Balawista, the executive representative of the Indonesia Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association, I Made Suparta Karang, told DenPost: "There have been many changes over the history of the Badung Balawista. The improvement in the quality of personnel supplemented by staff provided by the regency's administration have made the Balawista ready to battle the seas and save lives. We are well prepared to give assistance to tourists who experience problems along our beaches."
Sounding a less upbeat message, the advisory board of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant (PHRI) said it regrets that the facilities available to Bali's Balawista are still found lacking. While the Badung regency always seeks to support the island's lifeguards, the Bali rescuers are still badly equipped when compared with their counterparts overseas. There is a definite lack of life-saving stations and a general need for more sophisticated equipment that can be used to protect swimmers and water sports enthusiasts.
The 18 lifeguards stations in Bali, however, have recently been equipped with CCTV cameras to improve surveillance of the local seas.
Greg Hackfath, national president of the Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association (APOLA), echoed these concerns, praising the skills of Bali's lifeguards but decrying the lack of lifesaving equipment.
The head of the Badung regency Tourism Office, Cok Raka Darmawan, admits the lack of needed equipment, saying the current circumstances were far from the ideal. Darmawan explained that the Badung regency has 82 kilometers of swimming beaches stretching from Seseh beach to Tanjung Benoa.
Darmawan said Rp. 257 million (US$27,900) had been allocated for one new lifesaving post to be built on Tanjung Benoa in 2011.
Data maintained by the Balawista covering the period 2009 through October 2010, have Bali's life-guarding service credited with saving 287 lives and attending at the drowning of 7 people.
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