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Drownings fuel calls for full-time lifeguards

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Drownings fuel calls for full-time lifeguards
Photo of a Spanish lifeguard: Shutterstock
12:29 CEST+02:00
Lifeguards in Marbella have called on the city council to employ them all year round, after a recent tragedy saw three people drown off one of the cities beaches.

Lifeguards are currently only employed during the summer months, but have been lobbying for the city council to employ them full time, as the area is popular with tourists all year round.

Juan José Maspons, president of the Andalusian rescue group, told local newspaper La Opinión de Málaga accused the city council on stalling over the decision to introduce off-season lifeguards.

But lifeguard unions are ramping up their calls for Andalusia’s regional government to install a minimum team in all coastal cities throughout the year.

Gonzalo Fuentes, who is in charge of national tourism for the CCOO workers’ union, told local media that if beaches are open, they should be fully open:  

"I am in favour of it being fully operative," he told local newspaper La Opinión de Málaga, "and not only for safety. If we want to combat the seasonal nature of tourism, we have to make sure the coast is at full performance be that with lifeguards or beach bars."

 The problem of lack of lifeguards is one of the many casualties of Spain’s recent economic woes; many local councils simply do not have the money to keep their beaches manned all year round.

For Maspons of the Federación Andaluza de Salvamento y Socorrismo manning beaches should not just be about the number of tourists, but about providing lifeguards with stable employment:

"They should not be able to play with our stability or with our means of making a living. In many countries lifeguard posts are obligatory. It should be the same in Spain."

Lifeguards believe that making their jobs permanent will help to improve the standing of the profession, as well as stimulating Spain’s weakened economy; with greater job stability comes greater purchasing power.

"It is a shame that a tragedy has to happen for us to be able to talk about this issue," said Maspons.

Tragedy struck Marbella on Monday, April 13th, when three people drowned after getting into difficulty off La Venus beach.

The victims were a teacher and two teenagers who were part of a group of deaf students on a trip to Marbella from Turkey. Another student is still fighting for his life in hospital.  

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