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Drishti Marine, Goa’s state-appointed lifeguard agency has undergone extensive training in the new global lifesaving guidelines in times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Explains Ravi Shankar who heads the operations of Drishti Marine, “The new Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) protocol has changed. Globally, hands-only CPR is recommended which includes compression of the chest, but no rescue breaths. In more advanced cases too, it’s a direct shift from the regular mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the use of a Bag Valve Mask (BVM) which is a self – inflating resuscitation device. This can reduce infections or diseases being transmitted in the process between victim and rescuer”.

The earlier protocol involved clearing airways to avoid sand choking, commencing CPR through compressions, and moving on to a BVM only if mouth-to-mouth resuscitation could not be continued.

“Rescues still involve a lot of unavoidable physical contact but the new protocol can curb it down significantly and offer safety to both, the lifeguards as well as the rescued victims”, says Ravi.

Explaining further he adds, “ Lifeguards tug or carry the victims back to shore while the support team waiting on shore with the spine board and equipment wear masks, face shields, and gloves as they commerce hand compressions and use of the BVM if required.” Wherever possible, rescue board and jetskis are used to tug the victims back to the shore. Meanwhile, an ambulance is called for by the backup team.

“In cases of attempted suicide cases or those suffering from mental health, the lifeguards circle the victim while speaking to them and keeping them calm, eventually bringing the victim back to shore”, says Ravi. Once back onshore the lifeguards reach out to the local authorities and hand the victim to them for further medical interventions.

Patrolling along the beach while giving out safety instructions on megaphones mounted on jeeps or through the use of a whistle continues across all beaches.

Drishti Marine team held a CPR and first aid training programme with COVID guidelines for Goa Coastal Police at Betul recently.

Over the past months, Drishti has been sensitizing the lifeguards and staff on the dos and don’ts as prescribed by the WHO guidelines and the state health department. Training sessions have been conducted for all the 400 strong lifeguard force in separate batches to educate them on Covid-19 and dispel myths. Instructions prescribing the dos and don’ts have been put up prominently at all the 35 lifeguard towers along the coast. Every lifeguard tower has been equipped with masks, gloves, hand wash, soaps, and sanitizers so that lifeguards can sanitize themselves frequently.  Lifeguards have been briefed to keep a distance of two meters between themselves and others at all times and to actively use whistles and hailers to give instructions to people present on the beach.

With Goa having completely opened up for tourism and beachgoers making a bee-line for the shores, Goa’s beaches have witnessed a swell in visitors.