WE JOIN the national community in offering deepest sympathies to the loved ones of National Drama Association (NDATT) president Edwin Erminy – including his partner Raymar Diaz – in the wake of Erminy’s tragic drowning on Monday.
Erminy’s death has left a huge void and is a blow to the theatre world in which he had already begun to distinguish himself as a set designer and leader. Such was the confidence in his abilities, he was elected unopposed as NDATT president only a few weeks ago and was already at work on a number of proposals meant to showcase this country’s culture.
The circumstances surrounding Erminy’s death at Grand Riviere prompted an inquiry by the Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA). Concerns were raised over whether the response to the emergency was adequate.
With a poor history of service in the state sector – which recently drew the attention of even President Paula-Mae Weekes who lamented pockets of ineptitude, inefficiency, and stagnation – coupled with firsthand accounts from witnesses who complained about the attitude of the responders, it was important for the facts to be ventilated.
The ERHA is confident its response was adequate, though people who were present are still distressed over what for them was a demonstration of callousness. What is clear, however, is the irony that there is a well-equipped health facility a stone’s throw away from the scene of Erminy’s death yet no lifeguard post on the beach.
Considering that Grand Riviere is a longstanding tourist attraction which accommodates many visitors who go to dine, overnight and see the leatherback turtles that nest there, it is surprising there are no lifeguard facilities. Such facilities do not have to be on the beach itself given its sensitive nature but could be tailored to the conditions.
In the absence of such a lifeguard post, which has been lobbied for by the chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation Terry Rondon, villagers have taken it upon themselves to warn visitors. But it should not be for villagers to do this.
While part of the charm of Grand Riviere is its rustic nature, there is no reason why it cannot be developed to ensure basic facilities are available. Indeed, the State already understands the need for appropriate infrastructure given investment in the health centre.
If we are serious about developing tourism, then facilities should always be developed with an eye to ensuring all needs, including safety, are met.
There should also be better training in the handling of emergencies. Such emergencies are inherently distressing and require personnel able to communicate clearly and effectively and to diffuse any situation which might imperil the most efficient treatment.