Goa lifeguards use tech to bypass infection prone protocol amid Covid-19

During the Covid-19 pandemic, lifeguards in Goa have evolved a new protocol for management of persons rescued from drowning off the state’s beaches, by doing away with the traditional but infection transmission prone mouth-to-mouth resuscitation protocol, with the help of a new technology.

“The new cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) protocol has changed. Globally, hands-only CPR is recommended which includes compression of the chest but no rescue breaths,” according to Ravi Shankar, Head of Operations at Drishti Marine, a private lifeguard agency responsible for manning the beaches in the tourist state.

“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 which is a self-inflating resuscitation device. This can reduce infections or diseases being transmitted in the process between victim and the rescuer,” Shankar said, adding the agency’s lifeguards have undergone extensive training in the new global lifesaving guidelines necessitated by the pandemic.

The earlier protocol involved clearing the airways to avoid sand choking, commencing CPR through compressions in the initial stages.

“Rescue still involves 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”, said Shankar.

Till now in 2020, 147 persons in the age group 19 to 35 years have been rescued from drowning or administered emergency medical care on the beaches of Goa, which dot the state’s 100-km odd coastline. Of the 147 persons, 87 were domestic tourists, 29 foreigners and 31 local residents.

Over the past months Drishti Marine has also been sensitising the lifeguards and staff on the dos and don’ts as prescribed by the WHO guidelines and the state Health department.

Goa is one of the top beach tourism destinations in the country and last year the state attracted nearly eight million tourists, of which half a million were foreign nationals.