Nadador-salvador ISN

Life guards “cannot perform mouth-to-mouth this summer”

With beaches poised to start functioning ‘officially’ for this strangest of summers, life guards are to be given ‘options’ for mouth-to-mouth which ‘cannot be performed’ in the context of the ongoing pandemic.

In interview with Rádio Renascença yesterday, ISN (sea rescue institute) commander Velho Gouveia outlined the options.

They involve an oxygen kit and/ or manual ‘pumps’.

As he stressed, under no circumstances can lifeguards perform habitual mouth-to-mouth resuscitation this summer.

“Very specific” rules on how they are to conduct themselves in the event of rescues will be published shortly, he said. They have been defined by the ISN’s National Reanimation Council and “come from everything that exists at a national and international level for people in this sector”.

In incidents where people are saved from drowning “there will be an oxygen kit that will be part of the equipment supplied by concession holders or the local first aid post”, he explained.

If there is no oxygen kit, there will have to be manual pumps, “which have always existed, and which can be used in determined circumstances”, he added.

Decisions on who can and who cannot be on beaches will be made by Maritime Police and the PSP, Velho Gouveia told RR – suggesting lifeguards won’t be left with this responsibility this year.

Meantime, the huge unknown is how the virus will behave over the summer, particularly during the hottest months.

Graça Freitas, the ‘face of DGS health authority advice’ since the start of Portugal’s outbreak, told the station that “the whole world is waiting with great anxiety” to see if Covid-19 reacts to the stronger temperatures – bearing in mind that other coronaviruses all become weaker in the spring and summer.

If Covid-19 does indeed weaken, “we will have a reduction in the number of cases”, she said, though no one is taking any bets. Says RR, the DGS is actually working on the basis of a completely different scenario – that the virus could become even more aggressive in high temperatures.

“We are all waiting for the summer”, Ms Freitas admitted, stressing that in the meantime “we have to continue to watch” and cannot relax any of the measures adopted to stem contagion.

The DGS health director also told the station that the authority’s data “is much more than what is revealed during the daily Covid-19 press bulletins” and helps support councils make decisions.

“We have various levels of information”, she said. “What we give out in the daily bulletins is the ‘general’ information. But we don’t work alone: we work with academia and have various universities doing diverse types of analysis, so that we can understand the dynamics of different regions. The intention is to be vigilant and find data to pass on to local decision-makers, so that they can act accordingly”.

The official beach season starts on June 6, although restrictions on sunbathing and swimming have already been hugely relaxed.

Portugal’s philosophy is that beach goers should in the main police themselves, keeping the required physical distance from non-family members and maintaining ‘respiratory etiquette’ and measures of hygiene at all times (click here).

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com