Only 15 of the 50 designated swimming zones listed on the Transport Malta website have a lifeguard service, Times of Malta is informed. 

The information comes in the wake of the death of a 69-year-old man from Żejtun at St Peter’s Pool last Sunday afternoon.

Beachgoers at the popular swimming spot witnessed the man being pulled out of the water and given CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) by a tourist, Rory Clarke, before being taken away by paramedics, only to be later pronounced dead. 

Mr Clarke, who is a trained first responder, believes the man was still alive when he was carried ashore. He has since raised concerns about the absence of life-saving services and equipment at the location of the incident and the need for over-the-phone support from the hospital in emergency situations such as these. 

Lifeguard and first aid services to 15 public beaches around the island are provided by the Red Cross between 10am and 6pm every day. These zones have been earmarked and are financially supported by the MTA. 

They include the most popular spots such as Ġnejna, Għajn Tuffieħa, Golden Bay, Mellieħa, Buġibba and Qawra, St Julian’s, Sliema, Birżebbuġa and Marsascala.

In addition to lifeguards, one supervisor is stationed at each of six zones around the Maltese coast. Trained in advanced first aid, they offer urgent assistance to lifeguards who need it. They are also equipped with vehicles that have visual and audio warning systems at their disposal for rapid response as well as first aid kits for medical emergencies. 

Unfortunately, not all deaths are preventable

In the most popular beaches in the north, further support is provided by four rescue vessels. 

“Unfortunately, not all deaths are preventable especially when they involve medical complications,” a spokesman for the Red Cross said. 

He advised swimmers to stay hydrated when frequenting such beaches as several medical incidents occur every summer due to dehydration and heat exposure. 

However, many on social media have questioned the failure to offer lifeguard or at least first responder services at St Peter’s Pool, given how popular the bay is in summer. The area’s relative inaccessibility is an added cause for concern.

Questions sent by Times of Malta to the MTA about whether there are plans to install more lifeguards in popular swimming zones, and what other safety measures could be taken to avoid further tragedies, remained unanswered at the time of writing. 

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