• POLICE OFFICERS took part in a number of rescues up and down the coastline last week as, in the Vega Baja, only Pilar de la Horadada employs lifeguards in May

It has been a tragic week on the coast of Vega Baja as yet another man has drowned on Saturday on the Salidero de Guardamar beach where he was trying to help his wife, who was eventually pulled to safety by officers from the Local Police and the Civil Guard.

The deceased, a 43-year-old Austrian, is the second person to lose his life on local beaches last week after a 72-year-old man died while bathing on La Cura beach in Torrevieja.

It is reported that Local Police officers have taken part in three other rescues this Sunday, and in about a dozen over the past few days. Also last Thursday, three bathers were rescued on la playa Centro de Guardamar del Segura.

Thursday’s rescue involved a 36-year-old woman who went into the sea to help her young son, who was being dragged under by the waves, and a 24-year-old man who went to their aid but who was also trapped by the current.

According to witness account, the woman’s young son was bathing and the waves began to drag him out to sea. She waded into the water to get him out and was swept away as well. A group of young people who were watching then went to her aid, although one of them was also trapped by the waves.

A local police officer was also swept away by the waves. Although he was attached to a lifesaver, he was exhausted and with his head submerged, dragged into deeper water by the current. After several attempts, rescuers managed to get him to the shoreline in a conscious state, although he was extremely stunned.

Meanwhile the mayor of Guardamar del Segura, José Luis Sáez, has appealed to residents to ensure “maximum caution”, as “the sea is rough and with strong and dangerous currents”.

Why are there no lifeguards on the beaches?

Meanwhile there have been a barrage of complaints on social networks in recent days due to the lack of a lifeguard service on the beaches of the region. Resolving the problem is not simple though  from an administrative point of view. The contracting legislation does not allow flexibility in the provision of first aid to municipalities based on day-to-day needs.

Most municipalities do not start their season until June 1 -Torrevieja on the 15th-, although they do provide a service over Easter. In other words, if during this month of May the beaches are full due to the high temperatures and the high residential tourist occupancy, municipalities say that their services cannot be adapted to employ lifeguards because they are normally multi-year contracts, with conditions based on the hours of service. Any additional requirement or attendance would be out of contract.

But what they don’t explain is why the contracts cant include a provision when they are being drawn up to include such exigencies.  Presumably the main factor is one of cost. Meanwhile people will continue to die.

Of the municipalities in the area, only Pilar de la Horadada has a lifeguard service during the month of May, although with fewer staff than they would be expected to employ in the high season. None of the other municipalities will have surveillance and rescue personnel on the beaches until June.

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