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Goa lifeguards junk mouth to mouth resuscitation, adopt new protocol amid Covid pandemic

The nature of lifeguarding makes it impossible for the lifeguards themselves to avoid close contact with possible victims.

Updated: Sep 30, 2020, 18:51 IST

By Gerard de Souza, Hindustan Times Panaji

Lifeguards will instead use a bag valve mask a self inflating resuscitation device along with cardiopulmonary resuscitation if necessary to try and revive a patient who has lost consciousness on account of drowning. (Representative image/HT PHOTO)

Lifeguards manning Goa’s beaches will now adapt to the new normal and have adopted a new rescue and revival protocol in tune with the pandemic times.

The lifeguards will now no longer perform a mouth to mouth respiration method of revival and will instead use a bag valve mask, a self inflating resuscitation device along with cardiopulmonary resuscitation if necessary to try and revive a patient who has lost consciousness on account of drowning.

Drishti Marine, the lifeguarding agency that operates along Goa’s 105-km long coastline said that the new protocol is being rolled now with the beaches being gradually being reopened for swimming to coincide with the withdrawal of the monsoon.

“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,” Ravi Shankar who heads the operations of Drishti Marine, said.



“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). This can reduce infections or diseases being transmitted in the process between victim and rescuer,” he said.

Training sessions have been conducted for all the 400-member 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.

However, the nature of lifeguarding makes it impossible for the lifeguards themselves to avoid close contact with possible victims. Owing to its nature, a lifeguard wears a mask only while onshore but will need to take it off if he needs to rush in to rescue. The shore based teams, however, wear masks and shields.

“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”, Ravi said.

The 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.

The lifeguards also have to deal with several cases of persons attempting suicide by drowning. This year there have been at least seven cases reported of persons attempting to commit suicide by drowning which six coming within the period June to August.

In cases of attempted suicide cases or those suffering from mental health, the lifeguards circle the person while speaking to him or her and keeping him/her calm, eventually bringing the person back to the shore.

Goa has reopened for tourism leading to a beeline of tourists mainly from neighbouring states coming after protocol for testing at the border and quarantine were lifted by the government at the start of this month.

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