The mayor of Paphos is digging in his heels and refusing to sign up to a new national lifeguard plan, leaving local lifeguards without necessary lifesaving equipment.
Mayor of Paphos Phedonas Phedonos said the new lifeguard system was announced without any prior notice, and if implemented would mean the municipality having to cough up thousands of euros more to cover additional costs, which on some beaches is totally unnecessary.
“In the new national plan it states that there should be two lifeguards on duty at their positions, but it also states that this is within a distance of 250 meters. Between Sodap beach and Alexanda the Great in Paphos, for example, we only have a distance of 45 metres and now we have four lifeguards on duty. This is ridiculous and an unnecessary expense,” Phedonos told the Cyprus Mail.
However, a spokesman for the federation of Paphos lifeguards, said that members started working at Paphos beaches on April 2, and are extremely concerned that they have yet to be equipped with the necessary lifesaving paraphernalia.
If an accident or incident were to occur, he warned, lifeguards would not be able to administer possible life saving treatment.
“We only have flippers, masks and a few medical kits. We don’t have any defibrillators, jet skis or recue tubes. If someone is in trouble, we can only administer CPR, we may not be able to restart their heart rhythm without a defibrillator,” he said.
The lifeguard added that although the municipality may not agree with the orders of the ministry of the interior, it would be terrible if there was a death.
“We have been working for more than three weeks and with no answer as to when we will get our equipment,” he said.
The mayor, however, said that he does not accept responsibility for the current situation, noting that the responsible authority is the ministry of the interior through its district office. But he did cede that his refusal to sign the new directive has meant that lifeguards have yet to be equipped.
“I don’t take any responsibly for this situation, why is it up to the municipality to give a solution? If I give all of the equipment to the lifeguards after signing for it, the ministry will say that the municipality agrees to cover 50% of the new costs and I will not do that,” he said.
Phedonos added that when he brought up the matter of the short distances between some Paphos lifeguard positions with the minister of the interior and the person responsible for creating the new plan they were unaware of it.
He added that as very little notice was given, the municipality had not budgeted for such an increase. At present, total payment concerning lifeguards is split 50/50 between the municipality and the government.
“The total cost should be around 130,000 euros for this year, but with the new plan, it will be around 320,000” he said.
Charalambous Charalambou, the beaches inspector of Paphos municipality said that last year ten lifeguards were budgeted for and the same was planned for this year.
“The government though, has given us 15 already with another 3 in the future. We have sent the government and the district office three or four letters on the matter and also had a meeting with them in Nicosia last week. We are still waiting for their answer and expect to hear from them in the coming days,” he said.
He added that there are six blue popular flagged beaches under the control of the municipality of Paphos.