TWO Paphos lifeguards are being congratulated for their swift actions after they saved two men from possible drowning at a popular Paphos beach late in the afternoon on Sunday.
Just last week lifeguards saw their working hours extended from 5pm until 7pm after three drownings in the space of a week last month. One of them occurred just after the lifeguard had left for the day.
The pair got into trouble at around 6.10pm on Sunday, which means that if the incident had occurred just a few days earlier, no lifeguards would have been on duty to assist them.
“We have been pushing Socrates Hasikos, (the minister of the interior) to extend the hours and finally he realised and accepted what we were saying after a spate of deaths. Life is the most important thing and we have to do what we can to protect it,” said head of the Paphos municipality beaches committee, Nicos Simillides.
Simillides said that the incident involved two Syrian men aged 25 years, who were not strong swimmers. They got into trouble a reasonable distance from the shore of blue flagged SODAP beach in Kato Paphos. They called for help and the pair from the, ‘Kinyras’ Lifeguards association of Paphos, sprang into action.
“I have already telephoned to congratulate the lifeguards, George Theocharous and Andreas Michaelides, They did their job very well and both are experienced,” he said.
Simillides said that the incident was particularly important as only last week the hours were extended to cover between 9am- 7pm, but although this was a step in the right direction, more needed to be done.
“We will find out this week if it’s decided to employ more lifeguards, which urgently needs to happen. Although the hours have increased, we haven’t employed any new guards and the current ones are working 10 and 11 hour days.”
Currently 10 lifeguards are employed to cover the beaches falling within the boundaries of Paphos municipality. Simillides said that at least three more are required.
Around 33 lifeguards cover the entire district, which fall under different municipalities.
“I also believe that in July and August, the peak holiday season, the lifeguards should be on duty until 8pm as we have long days of daylight.”
He said that ideally, lifeguards should be working from sunrise to sunset to ensure the safety of bathers.