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Juan López, the director of Socorrismo Málaga, in the centre of the picture and next to him the coordinators of each municipality L. Cádiz
'A life cannot be replaced': Costa del Sol lifeguards aim for zero casualties this summer
Beach safety

'A life cannot be replaced': Costa del Sol lifeguards aim for zero casualties this summer

Socorrismo Málaga is in charge of ensuring that bathers on a large part of the western Costa del Sol coastline can enjoy the beach this summer without incident

Lorena Cádiz

Benalmádena

Monday, 8 July 2024, 15:56

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On a watchtower, on the beachfront, on a jet ski, operating safety drones... lifeguards are the image of the summer. In the majority of municipalities of the Costa del Sol the minimum surveillance and lifeguard services start at Easter, and last until October, but the months of July and August are key as all eyes are few and far between to control a coastline completely packed with people. Last year there were as many as 60,000 people on the beaches of the municipality of Fuengirola alone on a single day.

"Most people come to have fun and see no problem in doing anything," although after more than two decades of experience Juan López, director of the company Socorrismo Malaga has seen everything: "from very difficult moments, when you see a life slipping away and you can't save it, to great satisfaction, saving a person is a great thing".

This year his company, created in 2012 and with 440 people on staff in high season, is responsible for the lifeguard services for a large part of the western strip of the Costa del Sol. Specifically, for the beaches of Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Mijas and Marbella. He is also in charge of the accessibility areas on the beaches of Malaga city. "A very big responsibility", López said, who pointed out the importance of having a well-trained team.

The profession of lifeguard is, in most cases, a temporary profession, linked to a few months of the year and therefore almost all of them are very young people. That is why the training they receive before starting work is key. "A waiter drops a tray and replaces it, a life cannot be replaced," López said, who criticised there are training courses in this sector which "last less than the training given by McDonald's to its staff" and defended his own company's training school.

With these goals in mind, they have set themselves the target of achieving "zero victims" on the beaches they cover this year. Last year they managed to rescue seven people who went into cardiac arrest.

Distribution of tasks and vehicles among the people in charge of Socorrismo Malaga, at the Malapesquera beach in Benalmádena. L. Cádiz

Gonzalo Botta is the general coordinator of the company and he pointed directly to the jet skis and their drivers as one of the big headaches of the summer. It is a problem in which they work in coordination with police. "Over the years we have earned the respect of the Guardia Civil and we are always in contact with them," he said.

By municipality

By municipalities, although the circumstances are very similar, each one has its own particularities. Juanjo Chicano, coordinator of Socorrismo Malaga in Marbella, said the difficulty lies in the length of the coastline: 30 kilometres of coastline and four ports. In Mijas, its coordinator Javier Martín, points to the rocky seascape, which sometimes becomes the main cause of some accidents, although he also pointed out that there are beaches where the family public is the most frequent, which in a way makes them calmer.

Federico Daniele and José Antonio Sánchez are the coordinators in Benalmádena, whose coastline is made up of numerous coves, which is why they have a beach buggy' car, which helps them move around more lightly on land. Both pointed out the number of young people who visit the beaches of this town, with a large part of the coastline with hotels on the seafront. But they also boasted about the work they do in terms of accessibility, with four accessible points designed for people with disabilities.

Francisco Molina, the coordinator in Fuengirola, the only municipality that has four drones to monitor all of its coastline said it is a system that works in close coordination with the lifeguards and which manages to significantly reduce response times in the event of an emergency.

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