New beach action plans for safety issues on the coast

WHEN it comes to being pro-active in term of tourism development, it appears that Torrevieja continues to move forward while business and residents on the Orihuela Costa still await a plan of action for their region, with summer just ten weeks away.

The latest talking point is the issue of lifeguards.

In March, Torrevieja’s Beach Councillor Antonio Boix announced that the city’s beaches would all have Life Saving, Surveillance and Response Services in place on all its beaches as of March 31.

The service is provided by the Red Cross at a cost of €520,683 for full coverage. Meanwhile, on the Orihuela Costa, Councillor for Beaches and Tourism Pedro Mancebo reported last week they had saved the community €10,000 by not renewing the Red Cross contract.

Mancebo reportedly had to act “very quickly” due to the Red Cross’s actions, according to a press statement.

“Just before the contract, which had been agreed to for an amount of €36,000, was about to be ‘signed and sealed’, and for which an extraordinary government board meeting had been called, they put the government team in a very difficult situation.”

Although negations had been ongoing for more than a week, the Red Cross “waited until the last minute before dropping their bombshell,” according to Mancebo.

“The government team was informed that the Red Cross could not fulfil the agreed contract until immediate payment of the €300,000 debt was paid.

This is a debt which had been run up by the previous PP government.

Red Cross informed the government just one day before the contract was due to be signed.

After looking into this it was apparent to the government team that the ex Councillor for the Coast had not made contact with the Red Cross or even started the preparations for the lifeguard cover for the beaches.”

Thus, the blame game on the Orihuela Costa continues. Meanwhile, it is business as usual in Torrevieja, which will have a total of 75 qualified lifeguards on duty on the beaches in high season, from July 2 to September 2.

The rest of the season the number of Red Cross staff will be 44 (from June 2 to July 1) and 38 lifeguards at low periods from September 3 to 16. Antonio Boix also highlighted the extraordinary results that have been obtained from the Red Cross’ many years of service.

This includes the Adapted Bathing Chair for disabled, with an average of 15 disabled people using this service daily, which are on the beaches of Los Náufragos, Los Locos and the artificial beaches at Paseo de Juan Aparicio.

Those wishing to use this service can call the Red Cross – 965711818 -, who will pick up the disabled person, take them to the beach and return them home, for free. It is available from July 2 to September 2, between the hours of 11am and 7pm.

This service has been in high demand by residents, tourists as well as disabled people from nearby towns who do not have an adapted bathing point. In Torrevieja, the Red Cross has a total of 26 surveillance towers and nine rescue huts for first aid care, in addition to rescue watercraft deployed at strategic points, with immediate response times to any emergency situation.

They also have a Basic Life Support Ambulance (BLS) equipped with semi-automatic defibrillator, respirator, continuous monitor, oxygen therapy, immobilization, etc, as well as a Rapid Intervention Vehicle (RIV) with a semi-automatic defibrillator, ventilator and oxygen therapy.

Other facilities include a fully equipped portable Advanced Health Post for first response to emergencies.

Location bracelets for children and seniors can be obtained at the aid stations located on the beach to give people peace of mind.

Thanks to a unique number, which links to parents’ data, in the event rescuers find a lost child, the parents can be located.

Finally, the Councillor for Beaches highlighted the close collaboration that the Red Cross has with the municipal officers of the Environment on the location and recovery of injured and sick marine animals.

But the story does not end there as the actions of the Orihuela Town Hall, have left 45 experienced lifeguards jobless, so they are holding a series of protests this weekend; Saturday on Campoamor beach at noon and on Sunday at Cala Bosque beach in La Zenia.

It has been reported that some La Zenia beach lifeguards have been working for just €3.75 per hour, or €300 for an 80 hour calendar month but yet the new company from Pilar de la Horadada says they can provide a service to bathers for less than that of the Red Cross.

Whether or not bathers will feel safe enough swimming on the Orihuela Costa or decide to visit Torrevieja, remains to be seen.

By Keith Nicol

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