The Lifesaving Society (formerly the Royal Lifesaving Society) is a not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to reduce water-related death and injury. The Society has been educating the public and training lifesavers and lifeguards in B.C. since 1911. National Drowning Prevention Day in July and The Annual Commonwealth Awards Ceremony for Honour & Rescue in March are the most important events on the Society's calendar: both recognize roles that any member of the public may find themselves in; that of either victim or rescuer.
Courage, bravery and quick thinking are often required to rescue a drowning person. Risking ones own life characterizes many rescues as acts of selfless bravery. Many of the most tragic drownings involve children too young to swim, or those in the company of others unable to swim or perform a lifesaving rescue. Parents are encouraged to ensure that all family members attain swimming and lifesaving skills to be prepared to save themselves and others in an aquatic emergency.
Rarely does a drowning occur at a swimming facility with designated professional lifeguards on duty. However, many rescuers are proven to have drawn upon previous Society lifesaving training, such as the Bronze Medallion or Bronze Cross, when undertaking acts of lifesaving.
Promoting lifesaving and lifeguarding programs, and improving aquatic safety through youth education are just two ways the Lifesaving Society is able to serve the public. The Junior Lifeguard Club creates a focus for children aged seven years and up, preparing swimmers with valuable lifesaving skills. The Canadian Swim Patrol and Bronze Star are programs specifically designed for young swimmers.
The aforementioned areas of youth safety are considered a key foundation for training and educating members of the public: the Honour and Rescue Award Ceremony has a specific category for recognizing youth heroes. The George A. Brown Memorial Fund bestows a scholarship and award for a pre-teen who performs an outstanding act of bravery and rescue. Youth training can also lead to work as a qualified lifeguard in addition to providing both skills and value.
The Lifesaving Society B.C. & Yukon Branch receives no federal or provincial government funding, relying on course revenues, donations and media awareness to continue this invaluable work. The Honour & Rescue ceremony is the largest event of its kind in Canada and provides a fitting tribute to the work of volunteers, professionals and members of the public alike.