How it all began…
In June 2006, with a little bit of luck and a lot of tenacity, our co-founders Justin Sempsrott and Andrew Schmidt were asked to develop and instruct a two-day water safety course for Jamaica’s first national Search and Rescue Team. Despite not having any international training experience, the two saw a need and knew they could build on their past experiences as ocean lifesavers to provide effective instruction to the course participants.
Upon arrival on the first day of the course, with a finely tuned course in hand, Justin decided to ask a fitting ice breaker: “How many of you here know how to swim”. After watching six of the thirty two participants raise their hands, the two knew that a quick course overhaul was in store. With the new course objective being “Here’s how to save yourself and, if that works, save others” the basic of self rescue, swift water skills, and open water techniques were delivered to the eager class with minimal casualties along the way.
A wise man once said “Alcohol: the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems”; luckily, in our case, it provide a solution. While enjoying a few local beers before the closing ceremonies of the Jamaican course, Justin posed to following question to Andrew: “30 years from now, when we are tired of whatever jobs we have, how can we make sure we are still doing funs stuff like this on the side”. From there, a seed was planted in their heads that would grow over the next year into the what is now Lifeguards Without Borders (formerly Salvavidas International):
…a not for profit organization composed of lifeguards
and health care professionals who are devoted to doing their part,
through domestic and international training, program development,
and research, to lessen the global burden of drowning.
What is to come…
Every year, with the addition of new volunteers and through collaboration with similar organizations, our team continues to grow and gain momentum. Our members have participated in projects in South America, the Caribbean, and Asia and taught courses all over the United States. We are here to serve a need which will, unfortunately, be around for a long time. But as long as the need is there, Lifeguards Without Borders will be around to provide volunteers, ideas, resources, and collaboration.