By Ellen Zoe Golden
In an effort to boost the number of qualified personnel on Tamarindo beach, a collection of new recruits participated in lifeguard training early in December. Captain Luis Hidalgo Sibarja was once again the instructor, and after this successful session the total number of people who have been trained by him now comes to 60.
“In all the country, there’s not a lot of trained, certified lifeguards,” Hidalgo said. “We have made a big response to certify the local people to satisfy these needs for helping in emergencies. This community has the most certified persons (in Costa Rica). It’s about time to get organized in Tamarindo.”
The original lifeguard training program started when Victor Nuñez, now the head lifeguard in Tamarindo, approached Witch’s Rock Surf Camp head Pat McNulty after a death took place in the ocean out front of the property. Hidalgo took an active role in looking for that person who died, and afterwards, when Victor brought up Luis as a person who could train lifeguards, he was the logical choice because he had the most expertise. He’s certified with International Life Saving, where he is Director Costa Rica; Asociacion Nacional de Guardavidas de Costa Rica; and Intructores en Centuo, which has been in the Americas and Costa Rica for 16 years.
The new lifeguard class included people from Costa Rica, Argentina, Germany and Venezuela. They learned how to administer medical attention including CPR, use of Defibrillator, trauma procedures, and resuscitation. They also learned water rescue, and participated in a rigorous physical workout. Completion of the week-long course certified the candidates with the Asociación Nacional Guardavidas, International Life Savings, and the ILS International Lifesaving Federation.
The new recruits will not necessarily join the team of Tamarindo Lifeguards in the tower on the beach. Rather, they will be available to use their skills when called upon to assist in rescues and resuscitation as needed. Of course, they can help should they find themselves on the beach, swimming, surfing, or in a nearby location.
According to Andrea Diaz, head of the surf program at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp: “We’re giving the locals the tools to help.”
One of those locals was Luis Contreras Gomez who admitted gaining confidence to go into the water after the training. He was out on the beach before the official start each morning, getting in an extra run and swim. “I want to learn to rescue people in the water,” he said. “One day when there is a problem I can help those in the tower. If I had the opportunity to work in the tower I would do so with much pleasure, but now, I can help them. “
Tamarindo has benefited greatly from their Lifeguards in the tower. Since March 2015, the total number of rescues, as of November, was 136. And, there’s no shortage of people who want to help with this work.
“As soon as one course is done, there is already a line to do the next one. That speaks to how good the program is,” concluded Hidalgo.
For more information, go to www.facebook.com//Guardavidascostarica or call 2458-1212