Portugal with two more deaths on the beaches, but still in the «top places in the world ranking»

In the first three months of the bathing season, nine people died on Portuguese beaches, two of them on guarded beaches, plus […]

In the first three months of the bathing season, nine people died on Portuguese beaches, two of them on guarded beaches, two more than in the entire 2011 season.

Cabanas de Tavira was this Friday the place chosen to take an official balance of the first months of the bathing season of 2012 and the figures presented, despite being darker than last year, do not remove Portugal from the «top places in the world ranking» of drowning deaths on the beach.

Defense Minister Aguiar Branco was today at the beach in Cabanas de Tavira and, safeguarding that each death is always another fatality, he did not fail to make a "positive balance" of what has already passed from the 2012 bathing season.

With regard to deaths from drowning on guarded beaches, the numbers could only remain unchanged or even worse, as in 2011 there were no deaths in Portugal. The number of drownings on unsupervised beaches remains the same, in homologous terms, with seven deaths in both years.

According to the member of the Government, these numbers place Portugal, which has already led the ranking, "in the top ten, probably on the podium [of security] and with an eye on Gold".

On the other hand, the spokesman for the Institute of Aid to Shipwrecks (ISN) Nuno Leitão clarified that both deaths that occurred on guarded beaches were due to failure to comply with safety instructions.

A fact that already leads those responsible for rescue on the beaches to talk about more disclosure of the dangers and better information.

This is a bet promised by Aguiar Branco for the next bathing season, which will join the innovations introduced this year, many of them with the support of private companies.

The means available to ISN operators were, moreover, one of the highlights of the presentation, which also took stock of the current bathing season.

Partnerships with Vodafone and Volkswagen enabled lifeguards to be provided with complementary means, such as personal watercraft, 4×4 motorcycles and all-terrain vans, which helped save lives and assist thousands of holidaymakers.

According to the director of the ISN Costa Andrade, in the last three months, 143 rescues were made with personal watercraft, 352 with 4×4 motorcycles, which also provided first aid to 1028 people and helped to find 124 lost children. In all, the ISN has 10 personal watercraft and 22 4×4 motorcycles, acquired under a partnership with Vodafone.

Another partnership with a private company, Volkswagen, endowed the ISN with 28 Amarok vans, which helped to save 264 bathers, give the first assistance to 1042 people and find 286 children who were lost.

Even so, the basis of the national beach safety strategy continues to be lifeguards, whose action allowed saving 637 people on concession beaches and 206 on unsupervised beaches.

In terms of first aid, ISN operatives helped 1427 people and found 94 missing children. In the end, Costa Andrade considered that when there are deaths “it is always bad”, but that these numbers “are still a good result.

Results that, in the defense minister's view, are linked "to an exemplary sharing of resources" existing within the ISN. Aguiar Branco also highlighted the partnerships that the Institute was able to implement and even spoke of a “model with an export dimension”, recalling the training that the ISN carried out recently in Mozambique.

«Doing more, with the same resources» is, moreover, what the Minister of Defense recommends for the Armed Forces. Without admitting that there will be cuts in the Defense budget, leaving the matter for after the launch of the State Budget proposal, Aguiar Branco guaranteed that he is already working with the military leaders, in order to change the military structure in order to «rationalize resource and avoid redundancies'.