COVID-19: problems for lifeguards!

Lifeguards must attempt rescue “without entering the water”

lifeguard on Algarve beach

These are strange times we live in, and the Portuguese Federation of Lifeguards yesterday released some of the procedures that lifeguards must adopt during the bathing season in the face of the pandemic, such as favouring rescue “without going into the water” or approaching the castaway from behind.

“The international recommendation for lifeguards with preventive measures has not yet come out, and in Portugal, we have implemented a national prevention measure”, said the president of the federation, Alexandre Tadeia.

According to the official, these are “very technical issues” related to rescue, in which, for example, the lifeguard must “try to save without going into the water, using equipment”, as a way of preventing the contagion of COVID-19.

“If you really have to enter the water due to the situation, you should use equipment that keeps them at a distance, such as a torpedo buoy or a rescue belt with a two-metre cable and allows you to stay at least two metres away from the castaway”, he indicated.

However, in case of need or if the person is already unconscious, one should “approach the castaway from the back and never from the front”.

“While the first lifeguard is doing the rescue, the second, who is out of the water, must be equipped with personal protective equipment (gloves, mask and visor) and then it is he who will carry the person always behind his back and do the rest of the rescue out there”, he explained.

In this sense, the president clarified that the lifeguard “does not always have to wear a mask” and will never do it in water because “it is not possible and there are no specific masks for this situation”. “When you are on surveillance, patrolling or giving advice to bathers, as long as you keep a physical distance, you do not need to wear a mask. Now when you are providing first aid, then you have to use this equipment”, he pointed out.

The number of deaths from drowning in Portugal is still rising, with 52 deaths since the beginning of the year, 21 more than in the same period last year.

The official bathing season starts on Saturday and, according to the Government’s recommendations, beach users must ensure a physical distance of 1.5 metres between different groups and a distance of three metres between parasols.

The federation remains “in the same situation as it was two weeks ago”, not knowing if there are enough lifeguards to ensure surveillance across the country. Since April, the federation has been warning that about 1,500 to 2,000 lifeguards may be missing for this bathing season because training courses were interrupted with the declaration of a state of emergency and “only 50% of trained lifeguards return to work each season “.

Portugal accounts for at least 1,447 deaths associated with COVID-19 and 33,261 confirmed cases of infection, according to the latest daily bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) released this Wednesday.

Thanks to Peter for a link to Diário de Notícias on the mainland.

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