Lifeguards’ scheduled work stoppage over staffing and equipment issues has been cancelled this week, following a meeting with Paphos district officer Mary Lambrou.
A delegation of lifeguards working in Paphos and representatives of the Sek and Peo trade unions met the district officer in her office last Wednesday to discuss their long-standing issues, Lambrou told CNA on Sunday.
Among others, said Lambrou, reference was made to the need to appoint more lifeguards at the three winter bathing beaches, upgrade some towers and improve their equipment. The staffing issue will be submitted for approval to the district administration with the aim to staff each tower with two people at the winter beaches.
To improve the equipment, procedures are already being made to replace some faulty radios and to purchase bags to place medical supplies.
Concerning understaffing, she explained that seven less lifeguards have been hired because no people were found who met the criterion of holding a required fourth diploma. To address this, approval was secured by the interior ministry to recruit persons with the third lifeguard diploma provided that they pass the swimming and first aid examination.
In this way, the district officer said it is expected that all positions will be filled soon.
She also reminded that the SALAMIS Plan provides for 100 lifeguards in the district, while a tower in Geroskipou is reinforced with an additional team of lifeguards serving at the Airport based on Eurocontrol regulations. Compared to pre-2017 conditions, the lifeguards’ delegation has agreed that significant progress has been made.
In view of the explanations and the positive development, the work stoppage planned for Tuesday morning has been cancelled, Lambrou said.
Paphos currently has 34 lifeguard stations, some dating from the 1990s.
Earlier this month, a representative of the Paphos lifeguards told the Cyprus Mail that they lack “basic equipment” such as a complete first aid kit, binoculars, walkie-talkies, a megaphone, or a stretcher. The representative said up to half the towers lack such equipment – let alone rescue boards or jet skis.
They added that lifeguards deal with a variety of incidents from dramatic sea-rescues of the popular imagination to sun strokes to inebriation, or children being trapped or hurt on rocks.