The humanitarian society’s Secretary General, Fine Tuitupou-Arnold along with Society treasurer and acting president Lesley Katoa, have this week signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with the Italian Red Cross.
The first, between the Cook Islands Red Cross and their Italian counterpart, is to promote partnership and to ensure long-term cooperation between the parties, based on the fundamental principles and the common humanitarian values of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The areas of the partnership and cooperation between the two humanitarian societies will be in HIV and harm reduction, migration, youth and volunteer management, social and health, organisational development, capacity building, branch development, disaster and emergency preparedness and response, First Aid and water rescue.
The second MOU covers First Aid and water rescue.
Cook Islands Red Cross Secretary General Fine Tuitupou-Arnold says the memorandum presents an exciting opportunity for the local Society to further develop its capacity in the area of water rescue.
The Italian Red Cross has one of the best water rescue programmes in the Red Cross movement and supports other national societies in developing their programme own water rescue programmes.
“The plan is to have trainers from the Italian Red Cross visit the Cook Islands and support the Cook Islands Red Cross develop its training modules on water rescue and train trainers,” says Tuitupou-Arnold.
“Cook Islands Red Cross hopes to be able to offer water rescue training and services in the future as part of its First Aid training activities.”
The second MOU has been signed with the Tuscany regional branch, said to have the best water rescue programme in the Italian Red Cross.
While in Italy, the two local delegates visited the Tuscany branch to have a look at their training facilities and how they run their rescue activities.
Tuitupou-Arnold reiterates the need for more water rescue training in the Cook Islands, which continues to attract an ever-increasing number of tourists.
“With tourism being our main industry, water rescue training and services are very important in terms of keeping our locals and visitors safe in our lagoons and oceans.
“Unfortunately every year we read of tourists dying in our waters, so water rescue and safety is pertinent to the tourism industry.”
Many of the Society’s First Aid clients ask for water rescue training, and it has been looking for opportunities and ways to develop a sustainable programme.
In partnership with the International Surf Lifesaving Association (ISLA) and financial support from the New Zealand High Commission, the Cook Islands Red Cross has run two water rescue training sessions in the past two years.
“With the support of the New Zealand High Commission, we have started developing a water safety module and now the Italian Red Cross partnership will further support us in this area, and help us put together a more sustainable programme,” says Tuitupou-Arnold.
The Cook Islands Red Cross Society is hoping to start water rescue activity as soon as possible now that the two MOU have been signed.