Parks Canada says it will review surf-warning protocols

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Parks Canada says it will review surf-warning protocols

Parks Canada says it will review surf-warning protocols following the death of a visitor at Cavendish Beach Friday.

Surf guards and first responders tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate a 43-year-old Quebec man after he was pulled out of the water near Cavendish campground shortly before noon.

"Anytime that we have a serious incident in the park, we get together to talk about what happened, and if we can do anything to improve our services," said Arja Romaniuk, visitor safety coordinator at P.E.I. National Park.

Surf conditions Friday were rated moderate early in the day, but were upgraded to dangerous prior to the incident, according to Romaniuk.

Staff were advised of the upgrade in danger, and warning signs were posted for the public at the park entrance and at beaches, she said.

"At the time that the incident happened, the conditions were posted as dangerous and the surf guards were communicating with everybody on the beach," said Romaniuk. 

Parks Canada issued a warning by email early Friday afternoon. It also posted information on social media, and the park also uses a text-messaging system to send a notification to visitors' cell phones who opt into the service, according to Romaniuk.

Parks Canada also issued a news release Sunday about the dangerous conditions. Parks staff say surf conditions typically become more dangerous in mid-August as winds shift to the northwest and whip up higher waves.

It's not uncommon for surf conditions to be upgraded from moderate to dangerous, according to Romaniuk.

"The surf guards speak to people when they're on the beaches," said Romaniuk. "If anyone tries to go into the water, the surf guard will approach them and make sure that they're aware of what the risks are."

Parks Canada says its review of Friday's incident will begin within days.

Staff who were involved have been offered critical-incident counselling.

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